The Church gets a new blessed today. Today in Rome, at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Cardinal Salvatore de Giorgi will represent the Pope in presiding over the Mass of Beatification of Giuseppe Toniolo (1845-1918).
Toniolo is an interesting figure. He was a layman — a husband and the father of seven children. He was also an economist and sociologist. He taught economics for forty years at the University of Pisa. In fact, this is the first time the Church has beatified a university professor of economics.
Tonilio was the founder and president of the Unione cattolica per gli studi sociali (Catholic Union for Social Studies). He also established that organization’s journal, the Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali e Discipline Ausiliarie (International Review of Social Sciences and Related Disciplines). Through his scholarly work, he advocated the regulation of work hours, the protection of women and children in the workplace, holidays for workers, and the support of small businesses.
He was well-known in Italian academic circles and was even highly regarded by the popes of his time. In fact, it has been suggested that his work was influential in the preparation of Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, the foundational document of modern Catholic social teaching.
UPDATE: Great report and analysis from John Allen here.