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Encyclicals

families, but also of the financial state of the business concern for which
Rerum Navorum they work and of ‘the economic welfare of the whole people.’" He
With subtitle On Capital and Labor, it is a response to social instability concluded that the employees are important in the economy as a whole.
“It is worthwhile stressing here how timely and imperative it is that
and labor conflict that was a product of industrialization that led to
workers be given the opportunity to exert their influence throughout the
socialism. Pope Leo expressly stated that the state has a role to promote
State, and not just within the limits of their own spheres of employment.”
social justice by protecting rights as the Church must voice out social issues
in order to teach correct social principles and make sure of class harmony.
Moreover, the Holy Father said in this encyclical that the poor have a
special status in consideration of social issues. Hence, the Church
recognized the concept of ‘preferential option for the poor’ and expressly Octogesimo Adveniens
stated that God is always on the side of the poor. It also condemned the
unrestricted capitalism and prescribed formation of trade unions and “As the Church solemnly reaffirmed in the recent Council, "the
collective bargaining as an alternative to state intervention. beginning, the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be
the human person". Every man has the right to work, to a chance to
"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them
agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more
develop his qualities and his personality in the exercise of his profession, to
imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought equitable remuneration which will enable him and his family "to lead a
not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity worthy life on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level" and to
or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or assistance in case of need arising from sickness or age.” “Although for the
contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.”
defense of these rights democratic societies accept today the principle of
labor union rights, they are not always open to their exercise. The
important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the
representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful
Mater et Magestra collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of

P ope Leo XIII stressed out the importance of justice and equity in terms
the sense of their responsibility for the realization of the common good.
Their activity, however, is not without its difficulties. Here and there the
temptation can arise of profiting from a position of force to impose,
of employment in this encyclical. He even pointed out that it is the duty of
the State to ensure that the terms of employment are regulated in particularly by strikes—the right to which as a final means of defense
accordance of these. Moreover, the Holy Father further discussed the remains certainly recognized—conditions which are too burdensome for
rights of the employees to associate that “it is the natural right of the the overall economy and for the social body, or to desire to obtain in this
workers to work without hindrance, freely, and on their own initiative way demands of a directly political nature. When it is a question of public
within these associations for the achievement of these ends.” He further service, required for the life of an entire nation, it is necessary to be able to
suggested that “in determining wages, therefore, justice demands that assess the limit beyond which the harm caused to society become
account be taken not only of the needs of the individual workers and their inadmissible.”
Holy Father further discussed poverty and unemployment. Poverty, in
Populorium Progressio most cases, results from “a violation of the dignity of human work.” Such

“Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have would result due to unemployment or “low value is put on work and the
rights that flow from it.” Moreover, the Holy Father further discussed
but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, decency in work. “What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work?
eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and
give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen,
their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the
endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social development of their community; work that enables the worker to be
progress as well as economic growth. . Economics and technology are respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it
meaningless if they do not benefit man, for it is he they are to serve. Man possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their
is truly human only if he is the master of his own actions and the judge of children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work
their worth, only if he is the architect of his own progress. He must act that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their
according to his God-given nature, freely accepting its potentials and its voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots
claims upon him. Every form of social action involves some doctrine; and at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who
the Christian rejects that which is based on a materialistic and atheistic have retired a decent standard of living.”
philosophy, namely one which shows no respect for a religious outlook on
life, for freedom or human dignity.”

Caritas in Veritate
Migration has been described by Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in
Veritate, his latest encyclical, as a “striking phenomenon because of the
sheer numbers of people involved, the social, economic, political, cultural,
and religious problems it raises and the dramatic challenges it poses to
nations and international community.” It is one of the aspects of integral
human development which was not greatly emphasized by most nations.
“We can say that we are facing a social phenomenon of epoch-making
proportions that requires bold, forward-looking policies of international
cooperation if it is to be handled effectively. Such policies should set out
from close collaboration between the migrants' countries of origin and
their countries of destination; it should be accompanied by adequate
international norms able to coordinate different legislative systems with a
view to safeguarding the needs and rights of individual migrants and their
families, and at the same time, those of the host countries.” Moreover, the