Ninety-eight years ago this month, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio (When in the Inscrutable Designs of God). In this encyclical written at the end of World War I, he described the state of human society…
A much more serious and lamentable evil than these threats of external aggression is the internal discord which menaces the welfare not only of nations but of human society itself. In the first place, we must take cognizance of the war between the classes, a chronic and mortal disease of present-day society, which like a cancer is eating away the vital forces of the social fabric…from this class war there results frequent interruptions of work, the causes for which most often can be laid to mutual provocations. There results, too, revolutions, riots, and forcible repression of one side or other by the government, all of which cannot but end in general discontent and in grave damage to the common welfare. To these evils we must add the contests between political parties, many of which…originate[in]…the desire for power and for the protection of some private interest which inevitably result in injury to the citizens as a whole.
Sound familiar? After nearly 100 years, we are still plagued with these same issues. As Ecclesiastes says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9).