Périn, Henri Charles Xavier

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Principal representative of Catholic social thought in 19th-century Belgium; b. Mons, Aug. 29, 1815; d. Ghlin, near Mons, April 4, 1905. An attorney, he was named to the faculty of law at Louvain in 1844 and the next year succeeded Charles de Coux as professor of political economy. He taught for 35 years, quitting in 1881 only when a warning issued by Leo XIII to placate Conflicting Catholics prejudiced his position. Accused of too strongly defending civic freedoms, Périn withdrew to his home at Ghlin and completed in the years that followed many of his major works. He was a vigorous critic of the 19th-century economic liberalism that held that the self-regulating mechanism of the market provided justice for all. He did not share, however, the confidence of other Catholic social critics in the role of the state as the provider of welfare. He supported free workingmen's associations as well as those of management. He was one of the organizers of the congresses of Malines of 1863, 1864, and 1867. His works include: Les économistes, les socialistes, et le christianisme (1849), Le socialisme chrétien (1879), and Économie politique d'après "Rerum Novarum," (1891).

Bibliography: p. michotte, Études sur les théories economiques qui dominèrent en Belgique de 1830 à 1886 (Louvain 1904). r. kothen, La pensée et l'action sociales des catholiques 17891944 (Louvain 1945)

[e. t. gargan]