by John Paul, I I (1981)
To His Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate to the Priests to the Religious Families to the sons and daughters of the Church and to all Men and Women of good will on Human Work on the ninetieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum Laborem exercens (Latin: Through Work) is an encyclical written by Pope John Paul II in 1981, on human work. It is part of the larger body of Catholic social teaching, which traces its origin to Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum novarum.
In the modern period, from the beginning of the industrial age, the Christian truth about work had to oppose the various trends of materialistic and economistic thought.For certain supporters of such ideas, work was understood and treated as a sort of "merchandise" that the worker-especially the industrial worker-sells to the employer, who at the same time is the possessor of the capital, that is to say, of all the working tools and means that make production possible. This way of looking at work was widespread especially in the first half of the nineteenth century. Since then, explicit expressions of this sort have almost disappeared, and have given way to more human ways of thinking about work and evaluating it. The interaction between the worker and the tools and means of production has given rise to the development of various forms of capitalism - parallel with various forms of collectivism - into which other socioeconomic elements have entered as a consequence of new concrete circumstances, of the activity of workers' associations and public autorities, and of the emergence of large transnational enterprises. Nevertheless, the danger of treating work as a special kind of "merchandise", or as an impersonal "force" needed for production (the expression "workforce" is in fact in common use) always exists, especially when the whole way of looking at the question of economics is marked by the premises of materialistic economism. (p.7)
KeywordsCatholic, Catholic Church, Religious Views On Work, Rerum Novarum, Laborem Exercens, John Paul Ii
ThemesCatholicism, Religious Views on Work
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