Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

2/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Church honors human work, and sees it as a fundamental good of man

The Church honors human work, and sees it as a fundamental good of man.  She recognizes it as both a duty and a right. The reason work is both a duty and a right stems from two facts.  First, the fact that work is necessary. Second, the fact that work affirms the dignity of the human person.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: work, justice, labor, social doctrine, Andrew M Greenwell, Esq.Compendium, profits, persons, dignity


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The Church honors human work, and sees it as a fundamental good of man.  She recognizes it as both a duty and a right.  The reason work is both a duty and a right stems from two facts.  First, the fact that work is necessary.  Second, the fact that work affirms the dignity of the human person.

Work is necessary for a variety of reasons.  It is needed to form and support a family.  Work is also a necessity to support one's right to property, a right to which the right to work is closely allied.  It is needful because it contributes to the common good and to civil peace.  Indeed, the relationship between work and the common good is so intrinsic that the Church views unemployment as a "real social disaster." (Compendium, No. 287) (quoting John Paul II, Laborem exercens)  It is a social evil against which society should direct itself.

The Church therefore urges governments to aim, as part of a mandatory objective required by both justice and the common good, to the "full employment" of their citizens.  What "full employment" means in the context of macroeconomics is debated by economists, and, depending upon various prudential factors, may include some level of unemployment.  To achieve zero unemployment is a virtual impossibility, and there are both diminishing returns and economic costs associated with "full employment" defined as 100% employment. 

Regardless of the details, it is a fundamental principle that governments ought to avoid economic policies which frustrate this goal of the employment of its citizens however defined, and which result in the denial of, or thwarting of, employment. (Compendium, No. 288)

Governments should also aim to assuring that there be adequate access to education and training for their citizens.  The role of education becomes even more important as the society becomes technologically mature.  Also, with the "fluid economic context that is often unpredictable in the way that it evolves," retraining or on-going education is an essential requirement. (Compendium, No. 289, 290)

Finally, there ought to be special solicitude to those who have difficulty in obtaining employment and yet who have both the duty and the right to work: the young, women, less-specialized workers, those with disabilities, immigrants, ex-convicts, the illiterate. (Compendium, No. 289)  Special concern should be women, whose "feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society." (Compendium, No. 295).  Also, there is frequent exploitation of foreign or immigrant workers to which the State ought to be vigilant to prevent. (Compendium, No. 298)  Finally, the exploitation of children and child-labor is a blight that needs to be overcome. (Compendium, 296)

The Church therefore puts a large responsibility upon the shoulders of the State in the area of the employment of its citizens.  But her social doctrine ought in no way to be interpreted in a manner suggestive of socialism or Soviet-style central planning.  The Church is not advocating by any means politburo-employment.  "The duty of the State does not consist so much in directly guaranteeing the right to work of every citizen, making the whole of economic life very rigid and restricting individual free initiative." (Compendium, No. 291)  That sort of economic planning is to be discouraged, as it is fraught with the loss of economic liberty, not to mention that it reeks of inefficiency.

Rather, the duty upon the State is one of sustaining "business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job opportunities, by stimulating those activities where they are lacking or by supporting them in times of crisis."  The principle of subsidiarity is here of critical importance. (Compendium, No. 291)  Employment is to be the result of "an open process" and not government diktats, a process essentially free yet responsible, which does not forget the solidarity among men.  There is ample room here for private, for-profit initiative, but also for non-profit, volunteer-type arrangements, the so-called "third sector" between private enterprise and public authority. 

In short, ordinarily it is private enterprise and private initiative that ought to be the engine that results in the employment of the people.  Government's duty is to provide a legal and economic framework where this private enterprise and private initiate can occur.  

With the increased globalization of the world's economy, there is a need also to promote international cooperation among the several nation States "by means of treaties, agreements, and common plans of action that safeguard the right to work."  International organizations and labor unions also "must strive first of all to create an ever more tightly knit fabric of juridical norms that protect the work of men, women, and youth, ensuring its proper remuneration." (Compendium, No. 292) Whether chronic unemployment is in Yuma, Arizona, or in Harare, Zimbabwe, or in Madrid, Spain, all of us are in some manner hurt.

Again, the principle of subsidiarity and the preference for private initiative is as applicable to international organizations and labor unions as it is upon national governments.

The Church recognizes that there is an intrinsic connection between work and family life.  Indeed, the Church sees that work is "a foundation for the formation of family life." (Compendium, No. 294) (quoting JP II, Laborem exercens)  This is one reason why the Church is so concerned in assuring employment.  Work allows marriage and family to flourish.  It is needed to sustain the family and to allow for its principle end: the raising and education of children.

It is this intrinsic connection between work and family life  that ought to cause a re-appraisal of the relationship between employer and employee.  The employment relationship cannot only be thought of only in economic terms or in terms of a private contract, though it has those dimensions.  Every employment decision has a familial dimension that ought not to be neglected.

So the Church asks everyone involved in the employment process, "businesses, professional organizations, labor unions, and the State," to "promote policies that, from an employment point of view, do not penalize but rather support the family nucleus." (Compendium, No. 294)

The Compendium also addresses the issue of agricultural labor, which requires a specialized or individualized treatment.  In many countries, agricultural labor is particularly important to the national economy.  In some countries, particularly in Latin America, land ownership is excessively centralized in what are known as latifundia or huge landed estates. The latifundia system is an inefficient, unproductive, unjust system, repeatedly condemned by the Church as immoral.  It is closed to the free market, to wide-spread ownership of private property, and to the ready alienation of property.  It might even be likened to a form of private socialism or communism.  It requires attention and, in some countries, "a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform" is a moral imperative. (Compendium, No. 300)  Of course, there must be respect of private property, but this respect does not reduce the urgency of such reform.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


What every catechist needs but few have

Image of A complete library of books for catechists should feature the USCCB's full collection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're a catechist, then you're aware of the importance of your role. You provide the core of Catholic education to our youth and adults who are entering the Church. As such, you are familiar with the teachings of the Church and can probably answer most questions ... continue reading


DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS: Up to 50 Iraqi Christian refugees sleeping in areas the size of bedroom Watch

Image of Mosul, one of the largest cities in Iraq, is now completely empty of Christians as is Qaraqosh, a town dating back to 1,000 years before Christ and inhabited by mostly Christians for 2,000 years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mattresses scattered around church altars. Up to 50 people sleeping in areas the size of a single bedroom. Church grounds dotted with makeshift tents in 105-degree heat. This was just a few of the deplorable conditions a delegation sent by Melkite Catholic ... continue reading


Pope Francis briefed by envoy about deteriorating situation in Iraq Watch

Image of Cardinal Filoni spoke to the Pope last week. The cardinal had just arrived at the Vatican following a visit to Iraq on August 13-20 as Francis' envoy to besieged minorities there.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Back from a fact-finding mission on the deteriorating and ever worsening situation in Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni said that Pope Francis "was really taken" by his description of Christians and other minorities who have been forced from their homes in north-western ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2014 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter