Pacem In Terris 20-22: Further Consequences of Economic Rights

There are more to economic rights than what we’ve already discussed. In 1963, it was thought that one worker’s full-time employment should support worker, spouse presumably, and children. We’ve regressed a bit in that every family from middle class on down must employ two people, quite often. And we have the issue of minimum-wage workers subsidizing purchases in places like fast food chains and big box department stores. But that would be somewhat contrary to Church teaching, as we read:

20. A further consequence of (human) personal dignity is (the) right to engage in economic activities suited to (the person’s) degree of responsibility.( Cf John XXIII’s encyclical letter Mater et Magistra, AAS 53 (1961) 422) The worker is likewise entitled to a wage that is determined in accordance with the precepts of justice. This needs stressing. The amount a worker receives must be sufficient, in proportion to available funds, to allow (the worker) and (her or) his family a standard of living consistent with human dignity. Pope Pius XII expressed it in these terms:

“Nature imposes work upon (us) as a duty, and (we have) the corresponding natural right to demand that the work (we do) shall provide (us) with the means of livelihood for (the individual) and (her or) his children. Such is nature’s categorical imperative for the preservation of (humankind).”( Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Pentecost, June 1, 1941, AAS 33 (1941) 201)

Pope John was not, of course, a communist:

21. As a further consequence of (human) nature, (a person) has the right to the private ownership of property, including that of productive goods. This, as We have said elsewhere, is “a right which constitutes so efficacious a means of asserting one’s personality and exercising responsibility in every field, and an element of solidity and security for family life, and of greater peace and prosperity in the State.”( John XXIII’s encyclical letter Mater et Magistra, AAS 53 (1961) 428)

He was also a realist with a moral grounding. Ownership is not 100% a matter of rights. People who own property have duties as well:

22. Finally, it is opportune to point out that the right to own private property entails a social obligation as well. (Cf. ibid., p. 430; TPS v. 7, no. 4, p. 318)

What do you think? Balanced enough? If not, leaning too far which way?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Pacem In Terris 20-22: Further Consequences of Economic Rights

  1. Rick G. Eledge II says:

    This needs sent to every one in Washington

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