Remaining on the economic train, Gaudium et Spes moves to a new section entitled, “Certain Principles Governing Socio-Economic Life as a Whole.” Let’s tune in:
Human labor which is expended in the production and exchange of goods or in the performance of economic services is superior to the other elements of economic life, for the latter have only the nature of tools.
This labor, whether it is engaged in independently or hired by someone else, comes immediately from the person, who as it were stamps the things of nature with his seal and subdues them to his will. By (their) labor (people) ordinarily support (themselves) and (their) family, is joined to (other people) and serves them, and can exercise genuine charity and be a partner in the work of bringing divine creation to perfection. Indeed, we hold that through labor offered to God (people are) associated with the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, who conferred an eminent dignity on labor when at Nazareth He worked with His own hands. From this there follows for every (person) the duty of working faithfully and also the right to work.
A sanctification of work as an act of God, hallowed by Christ’s participation in it.
It is the duty of society, moreover, according to the circumstances prevailing in it, and in keeping with its role, to help the citizens to find sufficient employment. Finally, remuneration for labor is to be such that (people) may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily (their) own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of (their) dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good.(Cf. Leo XIII, encyclical letter Rerum Novarum: AAS 23 (1890-91), p. 649, p. 662; Pius XI, encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (193-1), pp. 200-201; Pius XI, encyclical letter Divini Redemptoris: AAS 29 (1937), p. 92; Pius XII, radio address on Christmas Eve 1942: AAS 35 (1943) p. 20; Pius XII, allocution of June 13, 1943: AAS 35 (1943), p. 172; Pius XII, radio address to the workers of Spain, March 11, 1951: AAS 43 (1951), p. 215; John XXIII, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p. 419.)
Since economic activity for the most part implies the associated work of human beings, any way of organizing and directing it which may be detrimental to any working men and women would be wrong and inhuman. It happens too often, however, even in our days, that workers are reduced to the level of being slaves to their own work. This is by no means justified by the so-called economic laws. The entire process of productive work, therefore, must be adapted to the needs of the person and to (that person’s) way of life, above all to … domestic life, especially in respect to mothers of families, always with due regard for sex and age. The opportunity, moreover, should be granted to workers to unfold their own abilities and personality through the performance of their work. Applying their time and strength to their employment with a due sense of responsibility, they should also all enjoy sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and religious life. They should also have the opportunity freely to develop the energies and potentialities which perhaps they cannot bring to much fruition in their professional work.
In summary, a dim view of “laws” which reinforce injustice and inhumanity, a direction of work for the good (including the holiness) of the worker, the importance of exercising one’s personal gifts, and the value of leisure, indeed its indispensability for family life, among other things. I’m not reading anything out-of-date or out-of-touch theologically with this. Are you?