Fratelli Tutti 162: Work

162. The biggest issue is employment. The truly “popular” thing – since it promotes the good of the people – is to provide everyone with the opportunity to nurture the seeds that God has planted in each of us: our talents, our initiative and our innate resources. This is the finest help we can give to the poor, the best path to a life of dignity.

The feed-a-fish/teach-to-fish proverb is vastly overquoted, but the essence of it is correct. This is what we recently commented about the difference between charity and justice. The former is a means of addressing immediate need; the latter ensures that the conditions which created evil are not repeated.

Hence my insistence that, “helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work”. [Laudato Si’ 128]

What is the role of government? To do what short-sighted people cannot or will not do: plan for the future.

Since production systems may change, political systems must keep working to structure society in such a way that everyone has a chance to contribute his or her own talents and efforts. For “there is no poverty worse than that which takes away work and the dignity of work”. [Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See (12 January 2015):AAS 107 (2015), 165; cf. Address to Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements (28 October 2014): AAS 106 (2014), 851-859] 

This is an important premise:

In a genuinely developed society, work is an essential dimension of social life, for it is not only a means of earning one’s daily bread, but also of personal growth, the building of healthy relationships, self-expression and the exchange of gifts. Work gives us a sense of shared responsibility for the development of the world, and ultimately, for our life as a people.

Given this description, I don’t think we can say a society with significant unemployment is “genuinely developed.” 

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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