Death of Pope Leo XIII, Supported Democratic Reforms & Opened Vatican Archives

Death of Pope Leo XIII, Supported Democratic Reforms & Opened Vatican Archives

Pope Leo XIII
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Pope Leo XIII dies. He was the first pope to try to bring the Roman Catholic Church into harmony with the modern world; among his more notable achievements was to support democratic reforms and open up the Vatican archives to outside scholars.

Pope Leo XIII also issued the encyclical Rerum Novarum ("Of New Things") to support the rights of workers and the poor, though he also opposed both socialism and communism. Rerum Novarum will be seen as the first major document to define modern Church social teachings.

Politically, Pope Leo XIII will follow the policies of his predecessor, Pope Pius IX, by working to achieve independence for the Vatican from the kingdom of Italy. He also expands the influence of the Catholic Church, created 248 new episcopal or archiepiscopal sees, and promotes the idea of all Christians being united under papal leadership.

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