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What does the Catholic Church teach about WORK? The answers may surprise you!

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Work is both an obligation and a right. Both workers and employees have responsibilities under God.

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.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >


By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (
3/10/2016 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: work, Catholic, teaching

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.

Genesis 2:1-3 
God rests on the seventh day.

Genesis 2:15 
God settles man in the garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it.

Deuteronomy  5:13-15 
The Sabbath is for everyone-all are allowed to rest from their work.

Deuteronomy  14:28-29 
The Lord blesses our work so that we may share its fruits with others.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15 
Do not withhold wages from your workers, for their livelihood depends on them.

Sirach 34:20-22 
To deprive an employee of wages is to commit murder.

Isaiah 58:3-7 
To observe religious practices, but oppress your workers is false worship.

Jeremiah 22:13 
Woe to him who treats his workers unjustly.

Matthew 20:1-16 
All workers should be paid a just and living wage.

Mark 2:27 
The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.

Luke 3:10-14
Practice integrity in your work.

Luke 12:13-21 
One's worth is not determined by an abundance of possessions.

James 5:1-6 
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)

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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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