Populorum Progressio 28: Dangers And Ideals

28. Work, too, has a double edge. Since it promises money, pleasure and power, it stirs up selfishness in some and incites others to revolt.

Generally, it would be people who have high expectations of that money, pleasure, and power. Too often, it can be about those who don’t work, but force others to do so for their own advantage.

A positive view:

On the other hand, it also fosters a professional outlook, a sense of duty, and love of neighbor. Even though it is now being organized more scientifically and efficiently, it still can threaten (human) dignity and enslave (people); for work is human only if it results from (human) use of intellect and free will.

Pope John XXIII wrote of work as a communal effort:

Our predecessor John XXIII stressed the urgent need of restoring dignity to the worker and making him a real partner in the common task: “Every effort must be made to ensure that the enterprise is indeed a true human community, concerned about the needs, the activities and the standing of each of its members.” (Mater et Magistra AAS 53 (1961), 423 [cf. TPS VII, 312].)

And there is a wider view of work in the Christian context:

Considered from a Christian point of view, work has an even loftier connotation. It is directed to the establishment of a supernatural order here on earth, (Cf., for example, O. von Nell-Breuning, S.J., Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, vol. 1: Grundfragen, Freiburg: Herder (1956), 183-184.) a task that will not be completed until we all unite to form that perfect (personhood) of which St. Paul speaks, “the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)

Once the factors of exploitation, enslavement, bad economic policy, the suppression of the 99% are removed, then yes, work can more seem to be an element of a supernatural ideal, and not a drudgery imposed by an aristocracy.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this link.

The wikimedia common image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

About catholicsensibility

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