What does the Catholic Church teach about WORK? The answers may surprise you!
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What does the Catholic Church teach about work? Here are some excerpts from the USCCB, which detail several of the Church's teachings on work.
The desire to work and to build better things is hardwired into our DNA, it is intrinsic to our soul. All healthy people seek to work, and should be given the right to do so, with living wages.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Work is an important part of who we are. It is a common boast how long people work and how much they earn as a result of their labor. We identify so powerfully with our work that a common question upon meeting another person tends to be, "What do you do for work?"
While the question isn't always welcome, for it suggests the dignity of a person is primarily attached to their work, it tells a lot about our society. And indeed, work does build dignity.
We spend a lot of time talking about work, the value of labor, and what we should do with those who cannot or choose not to work. What should the poor do? Should the working poor be paid more? Or should they work doubly hard for the same pay?
While we grapple, sometimes fiercely with these questions, the Catholic Church has already provided some direction. Read these excerpts, courtesy of the USCCB, and then consider these questions again. Do these statements change your mind? Or to they reinforce what you already know? We invite your comments below.
God rests on the seventh day.
God settles man in the garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it.
The Sabbath is for everyone-all are allowed to rest from their work.
The Lord blesses our work so that we may share its fruits with others.
Do not withhold wages from your workers, for their livelihood depends on them.
To deprive an employee of wages is to commit murder.
To observe religious practices, but oppress your workers is false worship.
Woe to him who treats his workers unjustly.
All workers should be paid a just and living wage.
The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.
Practice integrity in your work.
One's worth is not determined by an abundance of possessions.
Those who become rich by abusing their workers have sinned against God.
Work is, as has been said, an obligation, that is to say, a duty, on the part of man. . . Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history. On Human Work (Laborem Exercens)
Work is a good thing for man-a good thing for his humanity-because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfilment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being." On Human Work (Laborem Exercens)
The obligation to earn one's bread by the sweat of one's brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace. The Hundredth Year (Centesimus Annus)
In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or "because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family." Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate)
All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions, as well as to organize and join unions or other associations. A Catholic Framework for Economic Life.
All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labor or trade unions. On Human Work (Laborem Exercens)
As the Church solemnly reaffirmed in the recent Council, "the beginning, the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be the human person." All people have the right to work, to a chance to develop their qualities and their personalities in the exercise of their professions, to equitable remuneration which will enable them and their families "to lead a worthy life on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level" and to assistance in case of need arising from sickness or age. A Call to Action (Octogesima Adveniens)
The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, or inherently inhuman or opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner. Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate)
I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world's economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: "Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life." Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate), quoting The Church in the Modern World. (Gaudium et Spes)
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