The Right Use of Wealth: Catholic Social Teaching
According to scholars, Pope Leo XIII (2 March 1810 – 20 July 1903), born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903. He was the oldest pope (reigning until the age of 93), and had the third longest pontificate, behind his immediate predecessor Pius IX and John Paul II.
He is known for intellectualism, the development of social teachings with his encyclical Rerum Novarum and his attempts to define the position of the Church with regard to modern thinking. He influenced Roman Catholic Mariology and promoted both the rosary and the scapular. He issued a record eleven encyclicals on the rosary, approved two new Marian scapulars and was the first Pope to fully embrace the concept of Mary as mediatrix.
Regarding 'the right use of wealth', Leo quotes St. Thomas Aquinas who stated that 'a man should not consider his material possessions his own but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.' In fact, Pope Leo XIII insists upon this responsibility which in extreme cases is a matter not only of charity but of justice. Those who are rich should see themselves as stewards of God's Providence for the benefit of others. There is nothing to be ashamed of in earning one's bread by Labour. Christ worked as a carpenter.
Pope Leo XIII notes also that the true worth and nobility of man lies in moral qualities. Christ, he says, has redeemed mankind and all are his brothers and sisters. But interestingly, Leo XIII emphasizes the fact that the Church is not so preoccupied with the spiritual concerns of her children as to neglect their temporal and earthly interests. Rather, the Church desire is that the poor should rise above poverty and wretchedness and better their condition of life, and for this she makes strong endeavour.
For Pope Leo XIII, the Church calls men to virtue and so promotes Christian morality, which when adequately practiced, leads to temporal prosperity for it merits the blessing of God and fully restrains the greed for possession and the thirst for pleasure (n. 23)'