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Catholic Dictionary




The subjection of a human being to another as a captive of war, descent from such captivity, oppression by the state, or by purchase. As an institution, it existed from the earliest times, as may be seen from certain restrictions in Mosaic legislation. The New Testament accepted the fact of slavery but introduced new principles of justice and charity that gradually removed the institution from Christian nations. But slavery, as a state of servitude by which a person is the property of another human being, has by no means disappeared. It is a fact of life in countries where doctrinaire theory, e.g., Marxism, deprives people of all rights that are not consistent with the policy of the State. (Etym. Latin sclavus, from Sclavus, Slav, from reduction to slavery of many Slavic peoples of Central Europe.)