Blog Template Theology of the Body: A Week of Catholic Social Teaching V

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Week of Catholic Social Teaching V

6 (a). Economic Justice: Workers' Rights and Private Property

The economy must serve people and not the other way around. Every person has a right to productive work, decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions:

"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless... wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice." (Rerum Novarum, 45).
Workers also have a right to join and organize unions:

"They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life." (Rerum Novarum, 49)
At the same time, in accordance with the law of nature, workers have a right to private property with appropriate limits:

“The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man's own industry, and by the laws of individual races.” (Rerum Novarum, 8).

More from Evangelical Catholicism, here.