Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1869-1945) A native of Iowa and a priest, Ryan spent most of his life in Washington, D.C. He received a Ph.D. degree in moral theology from the Catholic University of America in 1906.

Ryan's lectures and publications, including his Ph.D. dissertation, were focused on political, economic, and ethical considerations concerning the just wage, labor unions, and the minimum wage for women. He was a strong supporter of Roosevelt and the New Deal, and is considered to have been directly involved in shaping these policies. His most important published work, Distributive Justice (Macmillan 1916), was an analysis of the ethical obligations of all parties in a modern industrial society. "His special role was to show Catholic America that these [New Deal] progressive reforms were essential for achieving the social justice to which their religion beckoned them" (Broderick 1963:277 f). The influence of Ryan was extensive and is still evident in older Catholic labor relations writers such as Msgr. George A. Higgins.

See also Christian Social Thought

Loretta M. Morris

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