Pope Leo XIII was concerned with issues of liberty and political power. He was sympathetic to the plight of the workers and felt that the Church should recognize their concerns, though he did not believe in the inevitable clash of labor and capital.
Thus in Rerum novarum he wrote that it was a “great mistake” to believe that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the workingmen are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict…. Each needs the other: Capital cannot do without Labor, nor Labor without Capital… .
Religion teaches the laboring man … to carry out honestly and fairly all equitable agreements freely entered into; never to injure the property, nor to outrage the person, of an employer; never to resort to violence… ; and to have nothing to do with men of evil principles, who work upon the people with artful promises, and excite foolish hopes which usually end in useless regrets, followed by insolvency.
Religion teaches the wealthy owner and the employer that their workpeople are not to be accounted their bondsmen; that in every man they must respect his dignity and worth as a man and as a Christian; that labor is not a thing to be ashamed of, if we lend ear to right reason and to Christian philosophy, but is an honorable calling, enabling a man to sustain his life in a way upright and creditable; and that it is shameful and inhuman to treat men like chattels to make money by, or to look upon them merely as so much muscle or physical power.