Pope Leo XIII issues the encyclical Rerum Novarum. Addressed to all Catholic bishops, it defends basic rights for workers and launches modern Catholic social teaching.
Specifically, Rerum Novarum supports the right of workers to form labor unions, rejects both unrestricted capitalism and unrestricted communism, and affirms a right to own private property.
One of the best known passages written by Pope Leo XIII is:
"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner.
If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice."