Skip to main content

Exhibit Highlights

burns library

The Fullness of Time: The Catholic Tradition of Social Justice

Original Exhibit Summer 2000

In the 1994 encyclical Tertio Millennio Adveniente, which announced the Jubilee Year, John Paul II remarks: "As the Third Millennium of the new era draws near, our thoughts turn spontaneously to the words of the Apostle Paul, 'When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman (Gal 4:4).'" This exhibit celebrates the Jubilee Year 2000, by focusing on the expression and practice of Catholic efforts to secure social justice in the world.

John A. Ryan was perhaps the best known Catholic voice on the social and economic order in early twentieth century America. Ryan asserted that employers were morally obliged to provide their employees with a living wage; he also advanced proposals for the legislation of a minimum wage, as well as health and unemployment benefits - suggestions deemed radical at the time but now standard features of American economic life. In addition to his many lectures and articles as a professor of theology and political science, Ryan served as Director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference from 1921 until his death in 1945. His pamphlet The Church and a Better Social Order was published in Dublin by the Catholic Truth Society in 1948.

Thomas Merton was one of the most important voices for peace in post-World War II America. As a monk at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, he tirelessly advocated the cause of peace in a time of war, both in Vietnam and under the shadow of the arms race of the Cold War. To the left is an image of the manuscript Merton wrote when he received the Pax Medal in 1963. He calls for an end to the arms race and for nuclear disarmament, writing that such ideas are found not only in John XXIII's Pacem in Terris, but have their roots in the Church Fathers and in the Gospels. But, Merton laments, the fact that he is receiving this award shows that Christians have not committed themselves to peace.

For Further Study: More information on holdings of the Burns Library is available at the library's website. Researchers may also contact library staff with specific questions.

« back