For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Human work in Catholic social thought"

by Finn, D (2012)


In Catholic Social Thought, work is at the center of issues related to morality and economic life. It is simultaneously objective and subjective. Workers are the real agents of production, and therefore labor should have priority over capital. The able-bodied have a moral obligation to work to obtain the things they need, but everyone has a claim on the basic necessities of life. Hence the property claims of the well-to-do are not to exclude the poor from what they need. The property-right claim of stockholders depends on the firm serving work and the interests of workers. In unions, workers’ natural right to form associations aligns with the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Numerous groups and organizations have some degree of complicity in workplace injustice and some degree of responsibility to address it.

Key Passage

Popes since Leo XIII have consistently upheld Leo’s concern for the ordinary worker faced with the pressures of industrial life, at first with traditional remedies. Forty years after Rerum Novarum, Pope Pius XI, in Quadregesimo Anno, argued for the importance of workers’ associations and like Leo held out the hope for a return to a guild-like organization in each industry that would encompass workers, managers, and owners. This position, known as “corporatism,” held that industrial strife could be prevented if these kinds of cooperative organizations could be created and cultivated. However, history moved in another direction and later papal thought on the question of the rights of workers stressed instead the role of government in establishing just rules of interaction between unions and firms. (p.881)


Property Rights, Catholic, Religious Views On Work, Theology, Catholic Social Thought, Duty To Work, Unions


Catholicism, Religious Views on Work

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