Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: Chapter Six

by Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Descriptive Title

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church


"Human Work" is Chapter 6 of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. This chapter covers the following topics: Biblical Aspects; The Prophetic Value of "Rerum Novarum"; The Dignity of Work; The Right to Work; The Rights of Workers; Solidarity Among Workers; The "New Things" of the World of Work.

Larger Work

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Publisher & Date

Vatican, 2004




a. The duty to cultivate and care for the earth

255. The Old Testament presents God as the omnipotent Creator (cf. Gen 2:2; Job 38-41; Ps 104; Ps 147) who fashions man in his image and invites him to work the soil (cf. Gen 2:5-6), and cultivate and care for the garden of Eden in which he has placed him (cf. Gen 2:15). To the first human couple God entrusts the task of subduing the earth and exercising dominion over every living creature (cf. Gen 1:28). The dominion exercised by man over other living creatures, however, is not to be despotic or reckless; on the contrary he is to "cultivate and care for" (Gen 2:15) the goods created by God. These goods were not created by man, but have been received by him as a precious gift that the Creator has placed under his responsibility. Cultivating the earth means not abandoning it to itself; exercising dominion over it means taking care of it, as a wise king cares for his people and a shepherd his sheep.

In the Creator's plan, created realities, which are good in themselves, exist for man's use. The wonder of the mystery of man's grandeur makes the psalmist exclaim: "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than god, and crown him with glory and honour. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet" (Ps 8:5-7).

256. Work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall; it is therefore not a punishment or curse. It becomes toil and pain because of the sin of Adam and Eve, who break their relationship of trust and harmony with God (cf. Gen 3:6-8). The prohibition to eat "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen 2:17) reminds man that he has received everything as a gift and that he continues to be a creature and not the Creator. It was precisely this temptation that prompted the sin of Adam and Eve: "you will be like God" (Gen 3:5). They wanted absolute dominion over all things, without having to submit to the will of the Creator. From that moment, the soil becomes miserly, unrewarding, sordidly hostile (cf. Gen 4:12); only by the sweat of one's brow will it be possible to reap its fruit (cf. Gen 3:17,19). Notwithstanding the sin of our progenitors, however, the Creator's plan, the meaning of His creatures - and among these, man, who is called to cultivate and care for creation - remain unaltered.

257. Work has a place of honour because it is a source of riches, or at least of the conditions for a decent life, and is, in principle, an effective instrument against poverty (cf. Pr 10:4). But one must not succumb to the temptation of making an idol of work, for the ultimate and definitive meaning of life is not to be found in work. Work is essential, but it is God - and not work - who is the origin of life and the final goal of man. The underlying principle of wisdom in fact is the fear of the Lord. The demand of justice, which stems from it, precedes concerns for profit: "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it" (Pr 15:16). "Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice" (Pr 16:8).

258. The apex of biblical teaching on work is the commandment of the Sabbath rest. For man, bound as he is to the necessity of work, this rest opens to the prospect of a fuller freedom, that of the eternal Sabbath (cf. Heb 4:9-10). Rest gives men and women the possibility to remember and experience anew God's work, from Creation to Redemption, to recognize themselves as his work (cf. Eph 2:10), and to give thanks for their lives and for their subsistence to him who is their author.

The memory and the experience of the Sabbath constitute a barrier against becoming slaves to work, whether voluntarily or by force, and against every kind of exploitation, hidden or evident. In fact, the Sabbath rest, besides making it possible for people to participate in the worship of God, was instituted in defence of the poor. Its function is also that of freeing people from the antisocial degeneration of human work. The Sabbath rest can even last a year; this entails the expropriation of the fruits of the earth on behalf of the poor and the suspension of the property rights of landowners: "For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard" (Ex 23:10-11). This custom responds to a profound intuition: the accumulation of goods by some can sometimes cause others to be deprived of goods.

b. Jesus, a man of work

259. In his preaching, Jesus teaches that we should appreciate work. He himself, having "become like us in all things, devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter's bench" [ 573] in the workshop of Joseph (cf. Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3), to whom he was obedient (cf. Lk 2:51). Jesus condemns the behaviour of the useless servant, who hides his talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30) and praises the faithful and prudent servant whom the Master finds hard at work at the duties entrusted to him (cf. Mt 24:46). He describes his own mission as that of working: "My Father is working still, and I am working" (Jn 5:17), and his disciples as workers in the harvest of the Lord, which is the evangelization of humanity (cf. Mt 9:37-38). For these workers, the general principle according to which "the labourer deserves his wages" (Lk 10:7) applies. They are therefore authorized to remain in the houses in which they have been welcomed, eating and drinking what is offered to them (cf. Lk 10:7).

260. In his preaching, Jesus teaches man not to be enslaved by work. Before all else, he must be concerned about his soul; gaining the whole world is not the purpose of his life (cf. Mk 8:36). The treasures of the earth, in fact, are consumed, while those in heaven are imperishable. It is on these latter treasures that men and women must set their hearts (cf. Mt 6:19-21). Work, then, should not be a source of anxiety (cf. Mt 6:25,31,34). When people are worried and upset about many things, they run the risk of neglecting the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (cf. Mt 6:33), which they truly need. Everything else, work included, will find its proper place, meaning and value only if it is oriented to this one thing that is necessary and that will never be taken away (cf. Lk 10:40-42).

261. During his earthly ministry Jesus works tirelessly, accomplishing powerful deeds to free men and women from sickness, suffering and death. The Sabbath - which the Old Testament had put forth as a day of liberation and which, when observed only formally, lost its authentic significance - is reaffirmed by Jesus in its original meaning: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mk 2:27). By healing people on this day of rest (cf. Mt 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6; Lk 6:6-11, 13:10-17, 14:1-6), he wishes to show that the Sabbath is his, because he is truly the Son of God, and that it is the day on which men should dedicate themselves to God and to others. Freeing people from evil, practising brotherhood and sharing: these give to work its noblest meaning, that which allows humanity to set out on the path to the eternal Sabbath, when rest will become the festive celebration to which men and women inwardly aspire. It is precisely in orienting humanity towards this experience of God's Sabbath and of his fellowship of life that work is the inauguration on earth of the new creation.

262. Human activity aimed at enhancing and transforming the universe can and must unleash the perfections which find their origin and model in the uncreated Word. In fact, the Pauline and Johannine writings bring to light the Trinitarian dimension of creation, in particular the link that exists between the Son-Word - the Logos - and creation (cf. Jn 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15-17). Created in him and through him, redeemed by him, the universe is not a happenstance conglomeration but a "cosmos".[574] It falls to man to discover the order within it and to heed this order, bringing it to fulfilment: "In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man - the world that, when sin entered, 'was subjected to futility' (Rom 8:20; cf. ibid. 8:19-22) - recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love".[575] In this way - that is, bringing to light in ever greater measure "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), in creation, human work becomes a service raised to the grandeur of God.

263. Work represents a fundamental dimension of human existence as participation not only in the act of creation but also in that of redemption. Those who put up with the difficult rigours of work in union with Jesus cooperate, in a certain sense, with the Son of God in his work of redemption and show that they are disciples of Christ bearing his cross, every day, in the activity they are called to do. In this perspective, work can be considered a means of sanctification and an enlivening of earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.[576] Understood in this way, work is an expression of man's full humanity, in his historical condition and his eschatological orientation. Man's free and responsible action reveals his intimate relationship with the Creator and his creative power. At the same time, it is a daily aid in combating the disfigurement of sin, even when it is by the sweat of his brow that man earns his bread.

c. The duty to work

264. The awareness that "the form of this world is passing away" (1 Cor 7:31) is not an exoneration from being involved in the world, and even less from work (cf. 2 Thes 3:7-15), which is an integral part of the human condition, although not the only purpose of life. No Christian, in light of the fact that he belongs to a united and fraternal community, should feel that he has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others (cf. 2 Thes 3:6-12). Rather, all are charged by the Apostle Paul to make it a point of honour to work with their own hands, so as to "be dependent on nobody" (1 Thes 4:12), and to practise a solidarity which is also material by sharing the fruits of their labour with "those in need" (Eph 4:28). Saint James defends the trampled rights of workers: "Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts" (Jas 5:4). Believers are to undertake their work in the style of Christ and make it an occasion for Christian witness, commanding "the respect of outsiders" (1 Thes 4:12).

265. The Fathers of the Church do not consider work as an "opus servile" - although the culture of their day maintained precisely that such was the case - but always as an "opus humanum", and they tend to hold all its various expressions in honour. By means of work, man governs the world with God; together with God he is its lord and accomplishes good things for himself and for others. Idleness is harmful to man's being, whereas activity is good for his body and soul.[577] Christians are called to work not only to provide themselves with bread, but also in acceptance of their poorer neighbours, to whom the Lord has commanded them to give food, drink, clothing, welcome, care and companionship [578] (cf. Mt 25:35-36). Every worker, Saint Ambrose contends, is the hand of Christ that continues to create and to do good.[579]

266. By his work and industriousness, man - who has a share in the divine art and wisdom - makes creation, the cosmos already ordered by the Father, more beautiful[580]. He summons the social and community energies that increase the common good[581], above all to the benefit of those who are neediest. Human work, directed to charity as its final goal, becomes an occasion for contemplation, it becomes devout prayer, vigilantly rising towards and in anxious hope of the day that will not end. "In this superior vision, work, a punishment and at the same time a reward of human activity, involves another relationship, the essentially religious one, which has been happily expressed in the Benedictine formula: ora et labora! The religious fact confers on human work an enlivening and redeeming spirituality. Such a connection between work and religion reflects the mysterious but real alliance, which intervenes between human action and the providential action of God"[582].


267. The course of history is marked by the profound transformation and the exhilarating conquests of work, but also by the exploitation of so many workers and an offence to their dignity. The Industrial Revolution presented for the Church a critical challenge to which her social Magisterium responded forcefully and prophetically, affirming universally valid and perennially relevant principles in support of workers and their rights.

For centuries the Church's message was addressed to agricultural societies, characterized by regular cyclical rhythms. Now the Gospel had to be preached and lived in a new "areopagus", in the tumult of social events in a more dynamic society, taking into account the complexities of new phenomena of the unimaginable transformations brought about by mechanization. At the centre of the Church's pastoral concern was the ever urgent worker question, that is, the problem of the exploitation of workers brought about by the new industrial organization of labour, capitalistically oriented, and the problem, no less serious, of ideological manipulation - socialist and communist - of the just claims advanced by the world of labour. The reflections and warnings contained in the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII are placed in this historical context.

268. Rerum Novarum is above all a heartfelt defence of the inalienable dignity of workers, connected with the importance of the right to property, the principle of cooperation among the social classes, the rights of the weak and the poor, the obligations of workers and employers and the right to form associations.

The orientation of ideas expressed in the Encyclical strengthened the commitment to vitalize Christian social life, which was seen in the birth and consolidation of numerous initiatives of high civic profile: groups and centres for social studies, associations, worker organizations, unions, cooperatives, rural banks, insurance groups and assistance organizations. All of this gave great momentum to labour-related legislation for the protection of workers, above all children and women; to instruction and to the improvement of salaries and cleanliness in the work environment.

269. Starting with Rerum Novarum, the Church has never stopped considering the problems of workers within the context of a social question which has progressively taken on worldwide dimensions.[583] The Encyclical Laborem Exercens enhances the personalistic vision that characterized previous social documents, indicating the need for a deeper understanding of the meaning and tasks that work entails. It does this in consideration of the fact that "fresh questions and problems are always arising, there are always fresh hopes, but also fresh fears and threats, connected with this basic dimension of human existence: man's life is built up every day from work, from work it derives its specific dignity, but at the same time work contains the unceasing measure of human toil and suffering, and also of the harm and injustice which penetrate deeply into social life within individual nations and on the international level".[584] In fact, work is the "essential key" [585] to the whole social question and is the condition not only for economic development but also for the cultural and moral development of persons, the family, society and the entire human race.


a. The subjective and objective dimensions of work

270. Human work has a twofold significance: objective and subjective. In the objective sense, it is the sum of activities, resources, instruments and technologies used by men and women to produce things, to exercise dominion over the earth, in the words of the Book of Genesis. In the subjective sense, work is the activity of the human person as a dynamic being capable of performing a variety of actions that are part of the work process and that correspond to his personal vocation: "Man has to subdue the earth and dominate it, because as the 'image of God' he is a person, that is to say, a subjective being capable of acting in a planned and rational way, capable of deciding about himself, and with a tendency to self-realization. As a person, man is therefore the subject of work"[586].

Work in the objective sense constitutes the contingent aspect of human activity, which constantly varies in its expressions according to the changing technological, cultural, social and political conditions. Work in the subjective sense, however, represents its stable dimension, since it does not depend on what people produce or on the type of activity they undertake, but only and exclusively on their dignity as human beings. This distinction is critical, both for understanding what the ultimate foundation of the value and dignity of work is, and with regard to the difficulties of organizing economic and social systems that respect human rights.

271. This subjectivity gives to work its particular dignity, which does not allow that it be considered a simple commodity or an impersonal element of the apparatus for productivity. Cut off from its lesser or greater objective value, work is an essential expression of the person, it is an "actus personae". Any form of materialism or economic tenet that tries to reduce the worker to being a mere instrument of production, a simple labour force with an exclusively material value, would end up hopelessly distorting the essence of work and stripping it of its most noble and basic human finality. The human person is the measure of the dignity of work: "In fact there is no doubt that human work has an ethical value of its own, which clearly and directly remains linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a person"[587].

The subjective dimension of work must take precedence over the objective dimension, because it is the dimension of the person himself who engages in work, determining its quality and consummate value. If this awareness is lacking, or if one chooses not to recognize this truth, work loses its truest and most profound meaning. In such cases - which are unfortunately all too frequent and widespread - work activity and the very technology employed become more important than the person himself and at the same time are transformed into enemies of his dignity.

272. Human work not only proceeds from the person, but it is also essentially ordered to and has its final goal in the human person. Independently of its objective content, work must be oriented to the subject who performs it, because the end of work, any work whatsoever, always remains man. Even if one cannot ignore the objective component of work with regard to its quality, this component must nonetheless be subordinated to the self-realization of the person, and therefore to the subjective dimension, thanks to which it is possible to affirm that work is for man and not man for work. "It is always man who is the purpose of work, whatever work it is that is done by man - even if the common scale of values rates it as the merest 'service', as the most monotonous, even the most alienating work"[588].

273. Human work also has an intrinsic social dimension. A person's work, in fact, is naturally connected with that of other people. Today "more than ever, work is work with others and work for others. It is a matter of doing something for someone else"[589]. The fruits of work offer occasions for exchange, relationship and encounter. Work, therefore, cannot be properly evaluated if its social nature is not taken into account: "For man's productive effort cannot yield its fruits unless a truly social and organic body exists, unless a social and juridical order watches over the exercise of work, unless the various occupations, being interdependent, cooperate with and mutually complete one another, and, what is still more important, unless mind, material things, and work combine and form as it were a single whole. Therefore, where the social and individual nature of work is neglected, it will be impossible to evaluate work justly and pay it according to justice"[590].

274. Work is also "an obligation, that is to say, a duty on the part of man"[591]. Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and in order to respond to the need to maintain and develop his own humanity. Work is presented as a moral obligation with respect to one's neighbour, which in the first place is one's own family, but also the society to which one belongs, the nation of which one is son or daughter, the entire human family of which one is member. We are heirs of the work of generations and at the same time shapers of the future of all who will live after us.

275. Work confirms the profound identity of men and women created in the image and likeness of God: "As man, through his work, becomes more and more the master of the earth, and as he confirms his dominion over the visible world, again through his work, he nevertheless remains in every case and at every phase of this process within the Creator's original ordering. And this ordering remains necessarily and indissolubly linked with the fact that man was created, as male and female, 'in the image of God"'[592]. This describes human activity in the universe: men and women are not its owner, but those to whom it is entrusted, called to reflect in their own manner of working the image of him in whose likeness they are made.

b. The relationship between labour and capital

276. Work, because of its subjective or personal character, is superior to every other factor connected with productivity; this principle applies, in particular, with regard to capital. The term "capital" has different meanings today. Sometimes it indicates the material means of production in a given enterprise, sometimes the financial resources employed to bring about production or used in stock market operations. One can also speak of "human capital" to refer to human resources, that is, to man himself in his capacity to engage in labour, to make use of knowledge and creativity, to sense the needs of his fellow workers and a mutual understanding with other members of an organization. The term "social capital" is also used to indicate the capacity of a collective group to work together, the fruit of investments in a mutually-binding fiduciary trust. This variety of meanings offers further material for reflecting on what the relationship between work and capital may be today.

277. The Church's social doctrine has not failed to insist on the relationship between labour and capital, placing in evidence both the priority of the first over the second as well as their complementarities.

Labour has an intrinsic priority over capital. "This principle directly concerns the process of production: in this process labour is always a primary efficient cause, while capital, the whole collection of means of production, remains a mere instrument or instrumental cause. This principle is an evident truth that emerges from the whole of man's historical experience"[593]. This "is part of the abiding heritage of the Church's teaching"[594].

There must exist between work and capital a relationship of complementarities: the very logic inherent within the process of production shows that the two must mutually permeate one another and that there is an urgent need to create economic systems in which the opposition between capital and labour is overcome[595]. In times when "capital" and "hired labour", within a less complicated economic system, used to identify with a certain precision not only two elements of production but also and above all two concrete social classes, the Church affirmed that both were in themselves legitimate[596]: "Capital cannot stand without labour, nor labour without capital"[597]. This is a truth that applies also today, because "it is altogether false to ascribe either to capital alone or to labour alone what is achieved by the joint work of both; and it is utterly unjust that the one should arrogate unto itself what is being done, denying the effectiveness of the other"[598].

278. In considering the relationship between labour and capital, above all with regard to the impressive transformations of our modern times, we must maintain that the "principal resource" and the "decisive factor" [599] at man's disposal is man himself, and that "the integral development of the human person through work does not impede but rather promotes the greater productivity and efficiency of work itself"[600]. In fact, the world of work is discovering more and more that the value of "human capital" is finding expression in the consciences of workers, in their willingness to create relationships, in their creativity, in their industriousness in promoting themselves, in their ability consciously to face new situations, to work together and to pursue common objectives. These are strictly personal qualities that belong to the subject of work more than to the objective, technical, or operational aspects of work itself. All of this entails a new perspective in the relationship between labour and capital. We can affirm that, contrary to what happened in the former organization of labour in which the subject would end up being less important than the object, than the mechanical process, in our day the subjective dimension of work tends to be more decisive and more important than the objective dimension.

279. The relationship between labour and capital often shows traits of antagonism that take on new forms with the changing of social and economic contexts. In the past, the origin of the conflict between capital and labour was found above all "in the fact that the workers put their powers at the disposal of the entrepreneurs, and these, following the principle of maximum profit, tried to establish the lowest possible wages for the work done by the employees".[601] In our present day, this conflict shows aspects that are new and perhaps more disquieting: scientific and technological progress and the globalization of markets, of themselves a source of development and progress, expose workers to the risk of being exploited by the mechanisms of the economy and by the unrestrained quest for productivity.[602]

280. One must not fall into the error of thinking that the process of overcoming the dependence of work on material is of itself capable of overcoming alienation in the workplace or the alienation of labour. The reference here is not only to the many pockets of non-work, concealed work, child labour, underpaid work, exploitation of workers - all of which still persist today - but also to new, much more subtle forms of exploitation of new sources of work, to over-working, to work-as-career that often takes on more importance than other human and necessary aspects, to excessive demands of work that makes family life unstable and sometimes impossible, to a modular structure of work that entails the risk of serious repercussions on the unitary perception of one's own existence and the stability of family relationships. If people are alienated when means and ends are inverted, elements of alienation can also be found in the new contexts of work that is immaterial, light, qualitative more than quantitative, "either through increased sharing in a genuinely supportive community or through increased isolation in a maze of relationships marked by destructive competitiveness and estrangement".[603]

c. Work, the right to participate

281. The relationship between labour and capital also finds expression when workers participate in ownership, management and profits. This is an all-too-often overlooked requirement and it should be given greater consideration. "On the basis of his work each person is fully entitled to consider himself a part-owner of the great workbench where he is working with everyone else. A way towards that goal could be found by associating labour with the ownership of capital, as far as possible, and by producing a wide range of intermediate bodies with economic, social and cultural purposes. These would be bodies enjoying real autonomy with regard to public authorities, pursuing their specific aims in honest collaboration with each other and in subordination to the demands of the common good. These would be living communities both in form and in substance, as members of each body would be looked upon and treated as persons and encouraged to take an active part in the life of the body".[604] The new ways that work is organized, where knowledge is of greater account than the mere ownership of the means of production, concretely shows that work, because of its subjective character, entails the right to participate. This awareness must be firmly in place in order to evaluate the proper place of work in the process of production and to find ways of participation that are in line with the subjectivity of work in the distinctive circumstances of different concrete situations.[605]

d. The relationship between labour and private property

282. The Church's social Magisterium sees an expression of the relationship between labour and capital also in the institution of private property, in the right to and the use of private property. The right to private property is subordinated to the principle of the universal destination of goods and must not constitute a reason for impeding the work or development of others. Property, which is acquired in the first place through work, must be placed at the service of work. This is particularly true regarding the possession of the means of production, but the same principle also concerns the goods proper to the world of finance, technology, knowledge, and personnel.

The means of production "cannot be possessed against labour, they cannot even be possessed for possession's sake".[606] It becomes illegitimate to possess them when property "is not utilized or when it serves to impede the work of others, in an effort to gain a profit which is not the result of the overall expansion of work and the wealth of society, but rather is the result of curbing them or of illicit exploitation, speculation or the breaking of solidarity among working people".[607]

283. Private and public property, as well as the various mechanisms of the economic system, must be oriented to an economy of service to mankind, so that they contribute to putting into effect the principle of the universal destination of goods. The issue of ownership and use of new technologies and knowledge - which in our day constitute a particular form of property that is no less important than ownership of land or capital [608] - becomes significant in this perspective. These resources, like all goods, have a universal destination; they too must be placed in a context of legal norms and social rules that guarantee that they will be used according to the criteria of justice, equity and respect of human rights. The new discoveries and technologies, thanks to their enormous potential, can make a decisive contribution to the promotion of social progress; but if they remain concentrated in the wealthier countries or in the hands of a small number of powerful groups, they risk becoming sources of unemployment and increasing the gap between developed and underdeveloped areas.

e. Rest from work

284. Rest from work is a right.[609] As God "rested on the seventh day from all the work which he had done" (Gen 2:2), so too men and women, created in his image, are to enjoy sufficient rest and free time that will allow them to tend to their family, cultural, social and religious life.[610] The institution of the Lord's Day contributes to this.[611] On Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation, believers must refrain from "engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body".[612] Family needs and service of great importance to society constitute legitimate excuses from the obligation of Sunday rest, but these must not create habits that are prejudicial to religion, family life or health.

285. Sunday is a day that should be made holy by charitable activity, devoting time to family and relatives, as well as to the sick, the infirm and the elderly. One must not forget the "brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery".[613] Moreover, Sunday is an appropriate time for the reflection, silence, study and meditation that foster the growth of the interior Christian life. Believers should distinguish themselves on this day too by their moderation, avoiding the excesses and certainly the violence that mass entertainment sometimes occasions.[614] The Lord's Day should always be lived as a day of liberation that allows us to take part in "the festal gathering and the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (cf. Heb 12:22-23), anticipating thus the celebration of the definitive Passover in the glory of heaven.[615]

286. Public authorities have the duty to ensure that, for reasons of economic productivity, citizens are not denied time for rest and divine worship. Employers have an analogous obligation regarding their employees.[616] Christians, in respect of religious freedom and of the common good of all, should seek to have Sundays and the Church's Holy Days recognized as legal holidays. "They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect and joy, and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society".[617] "Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day".[618]


a. Work is necessary

287. Work is a fundamental right and a good for mankind,[619] a useful good, worthy of man because it is an appropriate way for him to give expression to and enhance his human dignity. The Church teaches the value of work not only because it is always something that belongs to the person but also because of its nature as something necessary.[620] Work is needed to form and maintain a family,[621] to have a right to property,[622] to contribute to the common good of the human family.[623] In considering the moral implications that the question of work has for social life, the Church cannot fail to indicate unemployment as a "real social disaster",[624] above all with regard to the younger generations.

288. Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. "Full employment" therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. A society in which the right to work is thwarted or systematically denied, and 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".[625] An important role and, consequently, a particular and grave responsibility in this area falls to "indirect employers",[626] that is, those subjects - persons or institutions of various types - in a position to direct, at the national or international level, policies concerning labour and the economy.

289. The planning capacity of a society oriented towards the common good and looking to the future is measured also and above all on the basis of the employment prospects that it is able to offer. The high level of unemployment, the presence of obsolete educational systems and of persistent difficulties in gaining access to professional formation and the job market represent, especially for many young people, a huge obstacle on the road to human and professional fulfilment. In fact, those who are unemployed or underemployed suffer the profound negative consequences that such a situation creates in a personality and they run the risk of being marginalized within society, of becoming victims of social exclusion.[627] In general, this is the drama that strikes not only young people, but also women, less specialized workers, the persons with disabilities, immigrants, ex-convicts, the illiterate, all those who face greater difficulties in the attempt to find their place in the world of employment.

290. Maintaining employment depends more and more on one's professional capabilities.[628] Instructional and educational systems must not neglect human or technological formation, which are necessary for gainfully fulfilling one's responsibilities. The ever more widespread necessity of changing jobs many times in one's lifetime makes it imperative that the educational system encourage people to be open to on-going updating and re-training. Young people should be taught to act upon their own initiative, to accept the responsibility of facing with adequate competencies the risks connected with a fluid economic context that is often unpredictable in the way it evolves.[629] Equally indispensable is the task of offering suitable courses of formation for adults seeking re-training and for the unemployed. More generally, people need concrete forms of support as they journey in the world of work, starting precisely with formational systems, so that it will be less difficult to cope with periods of change, uncertainty and instability.

b. The role of the State and civil society in promoting the right to work

291. Employment problems challenge the responsibility of the State, whose duty it is to promote active employment policies, that is, policies that will encourage the creation of employment opportunities within the national territory, providing the production sector with incentives to this end. 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, as much as in the duty to "sustain business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job opportunities, by stimulating those activities where they are lacking or by supporting them in moments of crisis".[630]

292. Given the quickly developing global dimensions of economic-financial relationships and of the labour market, there is a need to promote an effective international cooperation among States by means of treaties, agreements and common plans of action that safeguard the right to work, even in the most critical phases of the economic cycle, at the national and international levels. It is necessary to be aware of the fact that human work is a right upon which the promotion of social justice and civil peace directly depend. Important tasks in this regard fall to international organizations and to labour unions. Joining forces in the most suitable ways, they 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".[631]

293. To promote the right to work it is important today, as in the days of Rerum Novarum, that there be "an open process by which society organize[s] itself".[632] Meaningful testimonies and examples of self-organization can be found in the numerous initiatives, business and social, characterized by forms of participation, cooperation and self-management that manifest the joining of energies in solidarity. These are offered to the market as a multifaceted sector of work activity whose mark of distinction is the special attention given to the relational components of the goods produced and of the services rendered in many areas: instruction, health care, basic social services and culture. The initiatives of this so-called "third sector" represent an ever more important opportunity for the development of labour and the economy.

c. The family and the right to work

294. Work is "a foundation for the formation of family life, which is a natural right and something that man is called to".[633] It ensures a means of subsistence and serves as a guarantee for raising children.[634] Family and work, so closely interdependent in the experience of the vast majority of people, deserve finally to be considered in a more realistic light, with an attention that seeks to understand them together, without the limits of a strictly private conception of the family or a strictly economic view of work. In this regard, it is necessary that businesses, professional organizations, labour unions and the State promote policies that, from an employment point of view, do not penalize but rather support the family nucleus. In fact, family life and work mutually affect one another in different ways. Travelling great distances to the workplace, working two jobs, physical and psychological fatigue all reduce the time devoted to the family.[635] Situations of unemployment have material and spiritual repercussions on families, just as tensions and family crises have negative influences on attitudes and productivity in the area of work.

d. Women and the right to work

295. The feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, therefore the presence of women in the workplace must also be guaranteed. The first indispensable step in this direction is the concrete possibility of access to professional formation. The recognition and defence of women's rights in the context of work generally depend on the organization of work, which must take into account the dignity and vocation of women, whose "true advancement ... requires that labour should be structured in such a way that women do not have to pay for their advancement by abandoning what is specific to them".[636] This issue is the measure of the quality of society and its effective defence of women's right to work.

The persistence of many forms of discrimination offensive to the dignity and vocation of women in the area of work is due to a long series of conditioning that penalizes women, who have seen "their prerogatives misrepresented" and themselves "relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude".[637] These difficulties, unfortunately, have not been overcome, as is demonstrated wherever there are situations that demoralize women, making them objects of a very real exploitation. An urgent need to recognize effectively the rights of women in the workplace is seen especially under the aspects of pay, insurance and social security.[638]

e. Child labour

296. Child labour, in its intolerable forms, constitutes a kind of violence that is less obvious than others but it is not for this reason any less terrible.[639] This is a violence that, beyond all political, economic and legal implications, remains essentially a moral problem. Pope Leo XIII issued the warning: "in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed. For, just as very rough weather destroys the buds of spring, so does too early an experience of life's hard toil blight the young promise of a child's faculties, and render any true education impossible".[640] After more than a hundred years, the blight of child labour has not yet been overcome.

Even with the knowledge that, at least for now, in certain countries the contribution made by child labour to family income and the national economy is indispensable, and that in any event certain forms of part-time work can prove beneficial for children themselves, the Church's social doctrine condemns the increase in "the exploitation of children in the workplace in conditions of veritable slavery".[641] This exploitation represents a serious violation of human dignity, with which every person, "no matter how small or how seemingly unimportant in utilitarian terms",[642] is endowed.

f. Immigration and work

297. Immigration can be a resource for development rather than an obstacle to it. In the modern world, where there are still grave inequalities between rich countries and poor countries, and where advances in communications quickly reduce distances, the immigration of people looking for a better life is on the increase. These people come from less privileged areas of the earth and their arrival in developed countries is often perceived as a threat to the high levels of well-being achieved thanks to decades of economic growth. In most cases, however, immigrants fill a labour need which would otherwise remain unfilled in sectors and territories where the local workforce is insufficient or unwilling to engage in the work in question.

298. Institutions in host countries must keep careful watch to prevent the spread of the temptation to exploit foreign labourers, denying them the same rights enjoyed by nationals, rights that are to be guaranteed to all without discrimination. Regulating immigration according to criteria of equity and balance [643] is one of the indispensable conditions for ensuring that immigrants are integrated into society with the guarantees required by recognition of their human dignity. Immigrants are to be received as persons and helped, together with their families, to become a part of societal life.[644] In this context, the right of reuniting families should be respected and promoted.[645] At the same time, conditions that foster increased work opportunities in people's place of origin are to be promoted as much as possible.[646]

g. The world of agriculture and the right to work

299. Agricultural labour merits special attention, given the important social, cultural and economic role that it continues to play in the economic systems of many countries, and also considering the many problems that need to be met in the context of an ever more globalized economy as well as its growing significance in safeguarding the natural environment. "Radical and urgent changes are therefore needed in order to restore to agriculture - and to rural people - their just value as the basis for a healthy economy, within the social community's development as a whole".[647]

The profound and radical changes underway at the social and cultural levels also in agriculture and in the more expansive rural world urgently call for a thorough examination of the meaning of agricultural work in its many different dimensions. This is a challenge of great importance that must be met with agricultural and environmental policies that are capable of overcoming a concept of welfare continuing from the past and of developing new perspectives for modern agriculture that is in a position to play a significant role in social and economic life.

300. In some countries a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable, in order to overcome the obstacles that an unproductive system of latifundium - condemned by the Church's social doctrine [648] - places on the path of genuine economic development. "Developing countries can effectively counter the present process under which land ownership is being concentrated in a few hands if they face up to certain situations that constitute real structural problems, for example legislative deficiencies and delays regarding both recognition of land titles and in relation to the credit market, a lack of concern over agricultural research and training, and neglect of social services and infrastructures in rural areas".[649] Agrarian reform therefore becomes a moral obligation more than a political necessity, since the failure to enact such reform is a hindrance in these countries to the benefits arising from the opening of markets and, generally, from the abundant growth opportunities offered by the current process of globalization.[650]


a. The dignity of workers and the respect for their rights

301. The rights of workers, like all other rights, are based on the nature of the human person and on his transcendent dignity. The Church's social Magisterium has seen fit to list some of these rights, in the hope that they will be recognized in juridical systems: the right to a just wage; [651] the right to rest; [652] the right "to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers' physical health or to their moral integrity"; [653] the right that one's personality in the workplace should be safeguarded "without suffering any affront to one's conscience or personal dignity"; [654] the right to appropriate subsidies that are necessary for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families; [655] the right to a pension and to insurance for old age, sickness, and in case of work-related accidents; [656] the right to social security connected with maternity; [657] the right to assemble and form associations.[658] These rights are often infringed, as is confirmed by the sad fact of workers who are underpaid and without protection or adequate representation. It often happens that work conditions for men, women and children, especially in developing countries, are so inhumane that they are an offence to their dignity and compromise their health.

b. The right to fair remuneration and income distribution

302. Remuneration is the most important means for achieving justice in work relationships.[659] The "just wage is the legitimate fruit of work".[660]

They commit grave injustice who refuse to pay a just wage or who do not give it in due time and in proportion to the work done (cf. Lv 19:13; Dt 24:14-15; Jas 5:4). A salary is the instrument that permits the labourer to gain access to the goods of the earth. "Remuneration for labour is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good".[661] The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient for the agreed-upon salary to qualify as a "just wage", because a just wage "must not be below the level of subsistence"[662] of the worker: natural justice precedes and is above the freedom of the contract.

303. The economic well-being of a country is not measured exclusively by the quantity of goods it produces but also by taking into account the manner in which they are produced and the level of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone access to what is necessary for their personal development and perfection. An equitable distribution of income is to be sought on the basis of criteria not merely of commutative justice but also of social justice that is, considering, beyond the objective value of the work rendered, the human dignity of the subjects who perform it. Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen.

c. The right to strike

304. The Church's social doctrine recognizes the legitimacy of striking "when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit",[663] when every other method for the resolution of disputes has been ineffectual.[664] Striking, one of the most difficult victories won by labour union associations, may be defined as the collective and concerted refusal on the part of workers to continue rendering their services, for the purpose of obtaining by means of such pressure exerted on their employers, the State or on public opinion either better working conditions or an improvement in their social status. Striking "as a kind of ultimatum" [665] must always be a peaceful method for making demands and fighting for one's rights; it becomes "morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good".[666]


a. The importance of unions

305. The Magisterium recognizes the fundamental role played by labour unions, whose existence is connected with the right to form associations or unions to defend the vital interests of workers employed in the various professions. Unions "grew up from the struggle of the workers - workers in general but especially the industrial workers - to protect their just rights vis-à-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production".[667] Such organizations, while pursuing their specific purpose with regard to the common good, are a positive influence for social order and solidarity, and are therefore an indispensable element of social life. The recognition of workers' rights has always been a difficult problem to resolve because this recognition takes place within complex historical and institutional processes, and still today it remains incomplete. This makes the practice of authentic solidarity among workers more fitting and necessary than ever.

306. The Church's social doctrine teaches that relations within the world of work must be marked by cooperation: hatred and attempts to eliminate the other are completely unacceptable. This is also the case because in every social system both "labour" and "capital" represent indispensable components of the process of production. In light of this understanding, the Church's social doctrine "does not hold that unions are no more than a reflection of the 'class' structure of society and that they are a mouthpiece for a class struggle which inevitably governs social life".[668] Properly speaking, unions are promoters of the struggle for social justice, for the rights of workers in their particular professions: "This struggle should be seen as a normal endeavour 'for' the just good ... not a struggle 'against' others".[669] Being first of all instruments of solidarity and justice, unions may not misuse the tools of contention; because of what they are called to do, they must overcome the temptation of believing that all workers should be union-members, they must be capable of self-regulation and be able to evaluate the consequences that their decisions will have on the common good.[670]

307. Beyond their function of defending and vindicating, unions have the duty of acting as representatives working for "the proper arrangement of economic life" and of educating the social consciences of workers so that they will feel that they have an active role, according to their proper capacities and aptitudes, in the whole task of economic and social development and in the attainment of the universal common good.[671] Unions and other forms of labour associations are to work in cooperation with other social entities and are to take an interest in the management of public matters. Union organizations have the duty to exercise influence in the political arena, making it duly sensitive to labour problems and helping it to work so that workers' rights are respected. Unions do not, however, have the character of "political parties" struggling for power, and they should not be forced to submit to the decisions of political parties nor be too closely linked to them. "In such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes".[672]

b. New forms of solidarity

308. The modern socio-economic context, characterized by ever more rapid processes of economic and financial globalization, prompts unions to engage in renewal. Today, unions are called to act in new ways,[673] widening the scope of their activity of solidarity so that protection is afforded not only to the traditional categories of workers, but also to workers with non- standard or limited-time contracts, employees whose jobs are threatened by business mergers that occur with ever increasing frequency, even at the international level; to those who do not have a job, to immigrants, seasonal workers and those who, because they have not had professional updating, have been dismissed from the labour market and cannot be re- admitted without proper re-training.

Given the changes that have taken place in the world of work, solidarity can be recovered, and perhaps with a firmer foundation in respect to the past, if the effort is made to rediscover the subjective value of work: "there must be continued study of the subject of work and of the subject's living conditions". For this reason, "there is a need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers".[674]

309. Pursuing "new forms of solidarity",[675] workers' associations must focus their efforts on the acceptance of greater responsibilities not only in relation to the traditional mechanisms for redistribution but also in relation to the production of wealth and the creation of social, political and cultural conditions which will permit all who are able and willing to work to exercise their right to work in full respect for their dignity as workers. The gradual obsolescence of organizational models based on salaried workers in big business makes it fitting to update the norms and systems of social security that have traditionally protected workers and guaranteed their fundamental rights.


a. An epoch-making phase of transition

310. The phenomenon of globalization is one of the most important causes of the current change in the organization of work. This phenomenon brings about new forms of production where plants are located away from where strategies are decided and far from the markets where the goods are consumed. There are two primary factors driving this phenomenon: the extraordinary speed of communication no longer limited by space or time, and the relative ease with which merchandise and people are transported from one part of the world to another. This entails a fundamental consequence for processes of production, as property is ever further removed and often indifferent to the social effects of the decisions made. On the other hand, if it is true that globalization is neither good nor bad in itself, but depends on how it is used,[676] it must be affirmed that a globalization of safeguards, minimum essential rights and equity is necessary.

311. One of the most significant characteristics of the new organization of work is the physical fragmentation of the cycle of production, promoted in order to obtain greater efficiency and greater profits. In this perspective, the traditional space-time coordinates within which the cycle of production formerly took place undergoes an unprecedented transformation that determines a change in the structure of work itself. All of this has significant consequences for the life of individuals and communities subjected to radical changes both on the level of material conditions and of culture and values. On the worldwide and local levels, this phenomenon presently involves millions of people, independently of their profession, social standing or cultural preparation. The reorganization of time, its standardization and the changes currently underway in the use of space - comparable in extent to the first Industrial Revolution insofar as they involve every sector of production, on every continent, independent of their level of development - are therefore to be considered a crucial challenge, also at the level of ethics and culture, in the area of defining a renewed system for the defence of work.

312. The globalization of the economy, with the liberalization of markets, the stiffening of competition, the increase of specialized businesses in providing goods and services, requires greater flexibility in the labour market and in organizing and managing production processes. In making an evaluation in this delicate area, it seems appropriate to lend greater moral, cultural and planning attention to giving direction to social and political activity concerning issues connected with the identity and content of new work, in a market and an economy that are themselves new. In fact, the changes in the labour market are often an effect of the change to which work has been subjected, and not one of its causes.

313. Work, above all within the economic systems of the more developed countries, is going through a phase that marks the passage from an industrial-type economy to an economy essentially built on services and technological innovations. In other words, what is happening is that services and activities with a predominant informational content show a much greater rapidity of growth than traditional primary and secondary sectors. This entails far-ranging consequences for organizing the production and exchange of goods, defining job requirements and providing effective social protection.

Thanks to technological innovations, the world of work is being enriched with new professions while others are disappearing. In fact, in the present phase of transition there is a continuous movement of workers from the industrial sector to that of services. As the economic and social models connected with big factories and with a homogenous working class lose ground, the employment prospects in the third sector improve. In particular, there is an increase in job activity in the area of personal services, in part-time, temporary and "non-traditional" employment, that is, work that does not fit into a category that would classify the job-holder either as an employee or as self-employed.

314. The transition currently underway signals the move from dependent work with no prescribed time limit, understood as a stable job, to a series of jobs characterized by many kinds of work activities, from a world of a unified, definite and recognized concept of work to a universe of jobs where there is great variety, fluidity and a wealth of promises. There are also many questions of concern, especially with regard to the growing uncertainty of work, the persistent presence of structural unemployment and the inadequacy of current systems of social security. The demands of competition, technological innovation and the complexities of financial fluxes must be brought into harmony with the defence of workers and their rights.

This uncertainty and instability involve not only the labour conditions of workers in more developed countries but affect also, and above all, the less advanced economic realities in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This latter category, besides the complicated problems associated with changing models of the economy and of production, must deal daily with the difficult adjustment required by the current phenomenon of globalization. The situation is particularly dramatic for the world of work, affected by vast and radical cultural and structural changes in contexts that are often without legislative support and lack programmes of professional training and social assistance.

315. The decentralization of production, which assigns to smaller companies several tasks previously undertaken by larger production interests, gives vitality and new energy to the area of small and medium-sized businesses. In this way, alongside traditional artisans there emerge new businesses characterized by small production interests at work in modern production sectors or in decentralized activities of larger companies. Many activities that yesterday required the hiring of employees are today carried out in new ways that encourage independent labour and are therefore marked by higher risk and greater responsibility.

Work in small and medium-sized businesses, the work of artisans and independent work can represent an occasion to make the actual work experience more human, both in terms of the possibility of establishing positive personal relationships in smaller-sized communities and in terms of the opportunities for greater initiative and industriousness. In these sectors, however, there are more than just a few cases of unjust treatment, of poorly paid and, above all, uncertain work.

316. In developing countries, moreover, there has been an expansion in recent years of "informal" and "hidden" economic activities. This represents a promising sign of economic growth and development, but it raises many ethical and legal problems. In fact, the significant increase in job opportunities in the context of such activities is owed to the lack of specialization in a large segment of the local work force and to disorderly growth in formal economic sectors. Large numbers of people are thus forced to work under seriously distressing conditions and in situations that lack the rules necessary for safeguarding workers' dignity. Levels of productivity, income and living standards are extremely low and often inadequate for guaranteeing to workers and their families the minimum level of subsistence.

b. Social doctrine and the "new things"

317. Given these impressive "new things" in the world of work, the Church's social doctrine recommends first of all to avoid the error of insisting that the current changes take place in a deterministic manner. The decisive factor and "referee" of this complex phase of change is once more the human person, who must remain the true protagonist of his work. He can and must take on in a creative and responsible fashion the present innovations and re-organizations, so that they lead to the growth of the person, the family, society and the entire human family.[677] Enlightenment for all can be found in the appeal of the subjective dimension of work, which according to the teaching of the Church's social doctrine must be given due priority, because human work "proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth".[678]

318. Mechanistic and economistic interpretations of the activity of production, however prevalent and influential they may be, have been outdated by scientific analysis of the problems connected with work. More today than in the past, these conceptions are seen to be completely inadequate for interpreting the facts, which everyday demonstrate more and more the meaning of work as a free and creative activity of the human person. Concrete findings should also provide the impetus for the immediate dismissal of theoretical perspectives and restrictive, insufficient operative criteria concerning the present dynamics. These prove to be intrinsically incapable of identifying the broad spectrum of concrete and urgent human needs that go well beyond merely economic categories. The Church is well aware and has always taught that men and women, unlike every other living being, have certain needs that are not restricted merely to "having",[679] because their nature and vocation are inextricably linked with the Transcendent One. The human person faces the adventure of the transformation of things through work in order to satisfy requirements and needs that are first of all material, but he does so in obedience to an impulse that pushes him ever further beyond the results obtained, to the quest of what will correspond most intimately to his vital inner needs.

319. The historical forms in which human work is expressed change, but not its permanent requirements, which are summed up in the respect of the inalienable human rights of workers. Faced with the risk of denying these rights, new forms of solidarity must be envisioned and brought about, taking into account the interdependence that unites workers among themselves. The more substantial the changes are, the more decisive the commitment of intellect and will to defend the dignity of work needs to be, in order to strengthen, at different levels, the institutions involved. This perspective makes it possible to orient the current transformations for the best, in the direction - so necessary - of complementarities between the local and the global economic dimensions, the "old" and the "new" economy, technological innovation and the need to safeguard human work, as well as economic growth and development compatible with the environment.

320. Men and women of science and culture are called to make their particular contribution to solving the vast and complex problems connected with work, which in some areas take on dramatic proportions. This contribution is very important for coming up with the proper solutions. This is a responsibility that requires that they identify the occasions and risks present in the changes taking place, and above all that they suggest lines of action for guiding change in a way that will be most beneficial to the development of the entire human family. To these men and women falls the important task of reading and interpreting the social phenomena with wisdom and with love of truth, leaving behind concerns imposed by special or personal interests. Their contribution, precisely because it is of a theoretical nature, becomes an essential point of reference for the concrete action prescribed by economic policies.[680]

321. The present scenarios of profound transformation of human work call even more urgently for an authentically global development in solidarity that is capable of involving every region of the world including those less advantaged. Regarding these less advantaged regions, the start of a process of wide-ranging development in solidarity not only represents a concrete possibility for creating new job opportunities, but is also seen as a genuine condition for the survival of entire peoples. "Solidarity too must become globalized".[681]

Economic and social imbalances in the world of work must be addressed by restoring a just hierarchy of values and placing the human dignity of workers before all else. "The new realities that are having such a powerful impact on the productive process, such as the globalization of finance, economics, trade and labour, must never violate the dignity and centrality of the human person, nor the freedom and democracy of peoples. If solidarity, participation and the possibility to govern these radical changes are not the solution, they are certainly the necessary ethical guarantee so that individuals and peoples do not become tools but the protagonists of their future. All this can be achieved and, since it is possible, it becomes a duty".[682]

322. There is an ever greater need for a careful consideration of the new situation of work in the present-day context of globalization, in a perspective that values people's natural tendency to establish relationships. In this regard it must be affirmed that universality is a dimension of human beings, not of things. Technology may be the instrumental cause of globalization, but the universality of the human family is its ultimate cause. For this reason, work too has a universal dimension, insofar as it is based on the relational nature of human beings. Technology, especially electronics, has allowed the relational aspect of work to spread throughout the world, giving to globalization a particularly rapid rhythm. The ultimate foundation of this dynamism is the working person, who is always the subjective - and never the objective - element. Therefore, globalized work too originates in the anthropological foundation of the inherent relational dimension of work. The negative aspects of the globalization of work must not damage the possibility opening up for all people: that of giving expression to a humanism of work on a planetary scale, to solidarity in the world of work on this same level, so that working in similar contexts, spread throughout the world and interconnected, people will understand ever better their one, shared vocation.

[573] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 6: AAS 73 (1981), 591.

[574] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, 1: AAS 71 (1979), 257.

[575] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, 8: AAS 71 (1979), 270.

[576] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2427; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 27: AAS 73 (1981), 644-647.

[577] Cf. Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on Acts, in Acta Apostolorum Homiliae 35,3: PG 60, 258.

[578] Cf. Saint Basil, Regulae Fusius Tractatae 42: PG 31, 1023-1027; Saint Athanasius, Life of Saint Antony, ch. 3: PG 26, 846.

[579] Cf. Saint Ambrose, De Obitu Valentiniani Consolatio, 62: PL 16, 1438.

[580] Cf. Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 5, 32, 2: PL 7, 1210-1211.

[581] Cf. Theodoret of Cyr, On Providence, Orationes 5-7: PG 83, 625-686.

[582] John Paul II, Address during his Pastoral Visit to Pomezia, Italy (14 September 1979), 3: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 1 October 1979, p. 4.

[583] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 2: AAS 73 (1981), 580-583.

[584] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 1: AAS 73 (1981), 579.

[585] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 3: AAS 73 (1981), 584.

[586] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 6: AAS 73 (1981), 589-590.

[587] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 6: AAS 73 (1981), 590.

[588] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 6: AAS 73 (1981), 592; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2428.

[589] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 31: AAS 83 (1991), 832.

[590] Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), 200.

[591] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 16: AAS 73 (1981), 619.

[592] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 4: AAS 73 (1981), 586.

[593] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 12: AAS 73 (1981), 606.

[594] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 12: AAS 73 (1981), 608.

[595] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 13: AAS 73 (1981), 608-612.

[596] Cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), 194-198.

[597] Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 109.

[598] Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), 195.

[599] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 32: AAS 83 (1991), 833.

[600] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 43: AAS 83 (1991), 847.

[601] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 11: AAS 73 (1981), 604.

[602] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (6 March 1999), 2: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 17 March 1999, p. 3.

[603] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 41: AAS 83 (1991), 844.

[604] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 14: AAS 73 (1981), 616.

[605] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 9: AAS 58 (1966), 1031-1032.

[606] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 14: AAS 73 (1981), 613.

[607] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 43: AAS 83 (1991), 847.

[608] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 32 AAS 83 (1991), 832-833.

[609] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625- 629; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 9: AAS 83 (1991), 804.

[610] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 67: AAS 58 (1966), 1088-1089.

[611] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2184.

[612] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2185.

[613] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2186.

[614] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2187.

[615] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, 26: AAS 90 (1998), 729: "In celebrating Sunday, both the 'first' and the 'eighth' day, the Christian is led towards the goal of eternal life".

[616] Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 110.

[617] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2188.

[618] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2187.

[619] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 26: AAS 58 (1966), 1046-1047; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 9, 18: AAS 73 (1981), 598-600, 622-625; John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (25 April 1997), 3: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 14 May 1997, p. 5; John Paul II, Message for the 1999 World Day of Peace, 8: AAS 91 (1999), 382-383.

[620] Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 128.

[621] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 10: AAS 73 (1981), 600-602.

[622] Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 103; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 14: AAS 73 (1981), 612-616; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 31: AAS 83 (1991), 831-832.

[623] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 16: AAS 73 (1981), 618-620.

[624] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 18: AAS 73 (1981), 623.

[625] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 43: AAS 83 (1991), 848; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2433.

[626] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 17: AAS 73 (1981), 620-622.

[627] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2436.

[628] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 66: AAS 58 (1966), 1087-1088.

[629] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 12: AAS 73 (1981), 605-608.

[630] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 48: AAS 83 (1991), 853.

[631] Paul VI, Address to the International Labour Organization (10 June 1969), 21: AAS 61 (1969), 500; cf. John Paul II, Address to the International Labour Organization (15 June 1982), 13: AAS 74 (1982), 1004-1005.

[632] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 16: AAS 83 (1991), 813.

[633] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 10: AAS 73 (1981), 600.

[634] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 10: AAS 73 (1981), 600- 602; John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 23: AAS 74 (1982), 107-109.

[635] Cf. Holy See, Charter of the Rights of the Family, art. 10, Vatican Polyglot Press, Vatican City 1983, p. 13-14.

[636] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 628.

[637] John Paul II, Letter to Women, 3: AAS 87 (1995), 804.

[638] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 24: AAS 74 (1982), 109-110.

[639] Cf. John Paul II, Message for the 1996 World Day of Peace, 5: AAS 88 (1996), 106-107.

[640] Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 129.

[641] John Paul II, Message for the 1998 World Day of Peace, 6: AAS 90 (1998), 153.

[642] John Paul II, Message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the occasion of the World Summit for Children (22 September 1990): AAS 83 (1991), 360.

[643] Cf. John Paul II, Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, 13: AAS 91 (2001), 241; Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" - Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Refugees: a Challenge to Solidarity, 6: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1992, p. 10.

[644] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2241.

[645] Cf. Holy See, Charter of the Rights of the Family, art. 12, Vatican Polyglot Press, Vatican City 1983, p. 14; John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 77: AAS 74 (1982), 175-178.

[646] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 66: AAS 58 (1966), 1087-1088; John Paul II, Message for the 1993 World Day of Peace, 3: AAS 85 (1993), 431-433.

[647] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 21: AAS 73 (1981), 634.

[648] Cf Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 23: AAS 59 (1967), 268-269.

[649] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards a Better Distribution of Land. The Challenge of Agrarian Reform (23 November 1997), 13: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1997, p. 18.

[650] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards a Better Distribution of Land. The Challenge of Agrarian Reform (23 November 1997), 35: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1997, p. 33.

[651] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625-629.

[652] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625-629.

[653] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 629.

[654] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 15: AAS 83 (1991), 812.

[655] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 18: AAS 73 (1981), 622-625.

[656] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625-629.

[657] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625-629.

[658] Cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 135; Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), 186; Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Sertum Laetitiae: AAS 31 (1939), 643; John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), 262-263; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 68: AAS 58 (1966), 1089-1090; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 629-632; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 7: AAS 83 (1991), 801-802.

[659] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 19: AAS 73 (1981), 625-629.

[660] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2434; cf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), 198-202: "The Just Wage" is the title of Chapter Four (nos. 65-76) of Part Two.

[661] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 67: AAS 58 (1966), 1088-1089.

[662] Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum: Acta Leonis XIII, 11 (1892), 131.

[663] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2435.

[664] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 68: AAS 58 (1966), 1089-1090; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 629-632; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2430.

[665] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 632.

[666] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2435.

[667] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 629.

[668] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 630.

[669] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 630.

[670] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2430.

[671] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 68: AAS 58 (1966), 1090.

[672] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 631.

[673] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the International Conference for Union Representatives (2 December 1996), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 11 December 1996, p. 8.

[674] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 8: AAS 73 (1981), 597.

[675] John Paul II, Message to the Participants in the International Symposium on Work (14 Sepember 2001), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 17 October 2001, p. 3.

[676] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (27 April 2001), 2: AAS 93 (2001), 599.

[677] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 10: AAS 73 (1981), 600-602.

[678] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2427.

[679] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 35: AAS 58 (1966), 1053; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 19: AAS 59 (1967), 266-267; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 20: AAS 73 (1981), 629-632; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28: AAS 80 (1988), 548-550.

[680] Cf. John Paul II, Message to the Participants in the International Symposium on Work (14 September 2001), 5: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 17 October 2001, p. 3.

[681] John Paul II, Greeting after the Mass for the Jubilee of Workers (1 May 2000), 2: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 10 May 2000, p. 4.

[682] John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the Jubilee of Workers (1 May 2000), 3: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 10 May 2000, p. 5.

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