Aparecida 120-122: The Good News of Human Activity

Pope John Paul’s 1981 encyclical provides support for looking at work in this section on “The Good News Of Human Activity.

120. We praise God because in the beauty of creation, the work of his hands, there shines the meaning of work as participating in his creative task and as service to brothers and sisters. Jesus, the carpenter (cf. Mk 6:3), honored work and workers, and reminds us that work is not a mere appendage to life, but that it “constitutes one of the fundamental dimensions of man’s existence on earth, (Cf. Laborem Exercens 4) by which man and woman fulfill themselves as human beings.(Cf. Ibid. 9) Work guarantees the dignity and freedom of the human being, and is probably “the essential key to the whole ‘social question.’”(Cf. Ibid. 3)

Unfortunately, many people who moderate or boss the work see a different message. The Aparecida bishops are certainly aware of this. We have an ideal:

121. We give thanks to God because his word teaches us that despite the weariness that often accompanies work, the Christian knows that, combined with prayer, it serves not only earthly progress but also personal sanctification and the building of the Kingdom of God.(Cf. Ibid., 27; 2 Thes 3:10)

This ideal is corrupted by sin:

Unemployment, unjust pay for work, and unwillingness to work are contrary to God’s design.

The role of the Church:

Responding to this design, the disciple and the missionary promote the dignity of the worker and of labor, and just recognition of their rights and duties, develop the culture of work, and denounce all injustice. Safeguarding Sunday as a day of rest, family, and worship of the Lord assures a balance between work and rest. The community should create structures to offer work to less-abled people according to their possibilities.(Ibid. 22)

It’s interesting that the Latin American bishops see the advocacy of dignity, Sunday, and other aspects to be part of the role of missionary discipleship. Could it be that fruitful work is how we express ourselves as divinely created beings?

A summary:

122. We praise God for the talents, study, and decision of men and women to promote initiatives and projects that generate work and production, and elevate the human condition and the well-being of society. Business entrepreneurship is good and necessary when it respects the dignity of workers and concern for the environment, and is ordered to the common good. It is perverted when, seeking only profit, it violates the rights of workers and justice.


For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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