Archive: Population Health Initiative
Exactly 125 years ago, in 1891, the industrializing world was going through a traumatic transformation that should seem familiar to us today: new technologies were transforming work; people were being uprooted by economic process from the lands of their birth and their traditional ways of life and drawn to the centers of the new economy, fleeing the collapsing worlds their parents had known and seeking new and better ones; millions of immigrants, emigrants, and migrants were crossing borders and seeking new homes; cities were growing and their problems were multiplying; tensions were emerging as cultures clashed; xenophobia was ignited (in the US it took the form of the American Protective Association, which sought to ban Catholic immigrants to this country); inequality was surging as some reaped enormous, unprecedented, and obscene profits from the new economy while others suffered egregious exploitation.
Sugarcane workers in Nicaragua have struggled for more than two decades for safer working conditions. They are fighting to receive medical treatment and compensation for a deadly kidney disease believed to be caused by their work in the sugarcane fields.
This year marks the 125th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (new window), Pope Leo XIII’s pivotal 19th century encyclical that laid the foundation for Catholic teaching on labor and the dignity of work. More than a century later, these principles remain profoundly relevant to our society and our campus community on the Hilltop.