Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

2/5/2012 (3 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 (3 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Teen delivers powerful impromptu invocation during graduation commencement's unexpected emergency Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A high school graduate stepped up to the podium during the Clay-Chalkville High School graduation ceremony and delivered a powerful prayer, after one woman had a medical emergency. The prayer moved the audience so much that his impromptu invocation was cheered for at ... continue reading


Catholic Priest warns participants of 'Charlie Charlie' Challenge summoning a demon is no joke Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Charlie, Charlie" Challenge is a game now infamous on social media that encourage players to summon a demon. According to a Mirror Online, a Catholic priest has issued a letter warning about the dangers involved with doing such a ritual, and that the challenge is ... continue reading


A Baltimorean's reflections on the Baltimore riots

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"The God of peace is never glorified by human violence," wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Whether it's on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots ... continue reading


Pope Francis admits to giving up TV in 1990 Watch

Image of While being in the eye of the international media, Pope Francis has little time for media. He's just too busy, and pledged not to watch TV after a pledge to the Virgin Mary in 1990.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While frequently in the media's eye, Pope Francis in fact has little time for the media. After making a promise to the Virgin Mary, the Pope claims that he has not watched TV since 1990. He did not even watch the matches of his football team San Lorenzo de ... continue reading


Pope Francis wants to be remembered as 'good guy who tried to do good' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his brief time as the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has done many remarkable things and has captured the world's attention. He came off as surprisingly humble in a recent interview with a fellow Argentinean journalist. Pope Francis says he ... continue reading


Catholics worldwide vow to get the word out on Pope Francis' message on climate change Watch

Image of Environmental advocates, working with bishops, religious orders, Catholic universities, and lay movements hope that there will be a transformative impact in the fight against global warming.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will release his anticipated teaching document on the environment and climate change in the coming weeks. Over the past several years, more faith traditions have rallied behind environmental protection. Churches have begun to press ecological ... continue reading


The Church Needs to Be Baptized Afresh in the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Do I still believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for ordinary Christians? You bet I do! I believe that Pentecost still happens. I KNOW it still happens. We can ALL know it still happens because we can experience its effects in our own lives. We should not be afraid of the Holy Spirit! In fact, we should regularly seek to be filled with more and more of the Spirit.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We need to pray for a New Pentecost for the Church in this hour! We need more of the Holy Spirit for the New Evangelization of the Church - so that a renewed Church can engage in the missionary task of the Third Christian Millennium. We need to be baptized afresh ... continue reading


Brotherhood of the Belt: Struggle, Trouble and Failure in the Christian Life Watch

Image of The Martyrdom of Peter

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Peter's wrong choices were not the end of the story of Gods plan for his life. Peter's denial crippled Peter emotionally and spiritually. He lost his way. That was until he encountered the Risen Christ. There, in that encounter, he allowed the belt of ... continue reading


The Purpose of Pentecost is the Birth and Ongoing Mission of the Church

Image of The purpose of Pentecost is the birth - and continued rebirth - of the Church.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to live differently in the midst of a world awaiting the fullness of redemption, to live as a new people to lead the world back to the Father, in and through the Son. Through their experience of the Holy Spirit the early ... continue reading


Top 5 Roman Catholic colleges in the United States Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What constitutes being the best university is oftentimes subjective and usually in adherence to one's beliefs and practices. Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions many people are making. Some opt for those that offer the best training in the fields of ... 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, Sirach 36:5-6, 10-17
5 Send new portents, do fresh wonders, win glory for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
8 Do not count against us the guilt of former ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:32-45
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 27th, 2015 Image

St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 27: At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that ... 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