Catholic Social teaching: Dignity of Work - Christ Working for Christ
Think of how the world would differ if the employment relationships were seen as Christ employing Christ and Christ working for Christ
For many of these workers, these were"" hard times. The moneyed capitalist and the bourgeoisie who prospered from this gospel of wealth seemed fat enough. Greed has its own financial rewards. But for the poor worker, it seemed like hope remained bottled up, hidden somewhere.
Then, to make matters worse, all sorts of human, even Satanic, devices were thought up as solutions for the moral and social problems: socialism, communism, anarchism. These seemed to pit class against class, brother against brother, and suggested injustice as an answer for injustice, as if two wrongs to make a right. Frequently, these were Godless, materialistic recipes to counter a Godless, heartless capitalism. They were but salt in the wound of class warfare.
This Industrial Revolution and the "social question" it raised, presented the Church with a new challenge. When she saw the crowds, she had compassion on them, because they were distressed and troubled, wandering around like sheep without a shepherd. So she looked into her reservoir of knowledge to see what she could offer to alleviate the problem and counter the spurious solutions. Drawing forth from the natural law and evangelical principles, she brought forth the salve of her social doctrine.
The Church's first sally into this area was Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum, literally "Of New Things." This encyclical was, as, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church describes it, "a heartfelt defense to the inalienable dignity of workers," but it also stressed the "importance of the right to property, the principle of cooperation among the social classes, the rights of the weak and the poor, the obligations of workers and employers, and the right to form associations." (Compendium, No. 268)
From Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum to Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in veritate, "the Church has never stopped considering the problems of workers within the context of a social question which has progressively taken on worldwide dimensions."(Compendium, No. 269)
In addressing the social questions and the economic and social changes brought forth by the Industrial Revolution, the Church has reflected on the meaning of work, work that is the every-day fact of life for man, work from which man can derive dignity, but which may in some cases also be impersonal, tainted by injustice, the loss of freedom, and the cause of heavy toil and inhuman suffering.
The Church brings a unique personalistic vision of work, one that finds in it great dignity and great value. For the Church, work is always understood within the context of the human person. The human is never viewed as a commodity, but always as a person called to an eternal destiny. It is from this personal vantage point that the Church understands work and its dignity.
The Church therefore sees human work from three dimensions: the objective, the subjective, and the social. The first looks first at the work and not necessarily the person doing the work. The second looks at the person doing the work and not necessarily the work done. The third looks at the social aspect of work: how it affects others.
The Church recognizes that work has an objective component. It can be seen as the "sum of activities, resources, instruments, and technologies used by men and women to produce things." The precise boundaries of works therefore changes with the times and with place.
But the Church also sees the more important subjective component of work. In this subjective sense, work is the "actus personae," an act of a person. She recognizes that "work is the activity of the human person as a dynamic being," one made in the image of God and enjoying all the dignity of that image. (Compendium, No. 270) It is this personal, subjective side of work above all which gives it its dignity, and "which does not allow that it be considered a simple commodity or an impersonal element of the apparatus for productivity." "The subjective dimension of work must take precedence over the objective dimension." (Compendium, No. 271)
This personal view of ...
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