5 surprising elements of Catholic Social Doctrine

In reading the Vatican document “The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” I was very surprised by 5 things.

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

The 5 discoveries:

DISCOVERY #1: I didn’t know about the Church’s demand that governments establish Full Employment for all able people of working age.

  1. Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. “Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. A society in which the right to work is thwarted or systematically denied, and in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, “cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace”.[625]

DISCOVERY # 2: I didn’t know about the Church’s demand that governments establish a Just Wage.

b. The right to fair remuneration and income distribution

  1. Remuneration is the most important means for achieving justice in work relationships.[659] The “just wage is the legitimate fruit of work”.[660]

They commit grave injustice who refuse to pay a just wage or who do not give it in due time and in proportion to the work done (cf. Lv 19:13; Dt 24:14-15; Jas 5:4). A salary is the instrument that permits the labourer to gain access to the goods of the earth. “Remuneration for labour is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good”.[661] **The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient **for the agreed-upon salary to qualify as a “just wage”, because a just wage “must not be below the level of subsistence”[662] of the worker: natural justice precedes and is above the freedom of the contract.

  1. In order to protect this relationship between family and work, an element that must be appreciated and safeguarded is that of a family wage, a wage sufficient to maintain a family and allow it to live decently[564]. Such a wage must also allow for savings that will permit the acquisition of property as a guarantee of freedom. The right to property is closely connected with the existence of families, which protect themselves from need thanks also to savings and to the building up of family property[565]. There can be several different ways to make a family wage a concrete reality. Various forms of important social provisions help to bring it about, for example, family subsidies and other contributions for dependent family members, and also remuneration for the domestic work done in the home by one of the parents[566].

  2. The rights of workers, like all other rights, are based on the nature of the human person and on his transcendent dignity. The Church’s social Magisterium has seen fit to list some of these rights, in the hope that they will be recognized in juridical systems: the right to a just wage; [651]…

DISCOVERY # 3: I didn’t know about the Church’s demand that governments redistribute income in order to create more fairness.

b. The right to **fair **remuneration and income distribution

  1. …An equitable distribution of income is to be sought on the basis of criteria not merely of commutative justice but also of social justice that is, considering, beyond the objective value of the work rendered, the human dignity of the subjects who perform it. Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen.

DISCOVERY # 4: I didn’t know the Church’s openly talks about the existence of social classes and the tendency of members of the business class to be antagonistic towards members of the employee class.

  1. The relationship between labour and capital often shows traits of antagonism that take on new forms with the changing of social and economic contexts. In the past, the origin of the **conflict between capital and labour **was found above all “in the fact that the workers put their powers at the disposal of the entrepreneurs, and these, following the principle of maximum profit, tried to establish the lowest possible wages for the work done by the employees”.[601] In our present day, this conflict shows aspects that are new and perhaps more disquieting

DISCOVERY # 5: I didn’t know the Church’s openly talks about the need for governments to engage in economic planning for the whole society.

  1. The planning capacity of a society oriented towards the common good and looking to the future is measured also and above all on the basis of the employment prospects that it is able to offer.

Nowhere in any of those quotations is the word “government” used. It says “economic system” in one case, but in the others, it just says that these should happen – not necessarily because of the state. For instance, “income redistribution” can be by charitable subsidies, and a just wage can be on the moral conscience of an employer rather than it being dictated by the labour department. Right?

Ultimately the Church has condemned social Darwinism and Marxism, whether the best economic system is free-market capitalism or socialism or distributism is not only the opinion of the individual, but also something that probably varies based on the local region in question.

I believe that when one reads the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, he ends up with no doubt at all that the Church wants and expects these mandates and rights to be enforced by the secular governments of nations whenever private parties decline to follow them on their own. Just as one example, consider this **quote from the Compendium: **

“The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient for the agreed-upon salary to qualify as a “just wage”, because a just wage “must not be below the level of subsistence”[662] of the worker: natural justice precedes and is above the freedom of the contract.”

Here you can see that the Church is saying that the exist of a “free market” and agreements freely entered into between parties is not sufficient to ensure the justice that the Church requires. Only secular governments have the power to intervene in commercial and economic transactions. Charitable organizations have no such power. Thus, without government mandates concerning all these economic justice mandates of the Church, they will all just remain empty rhetoric, just lofty hopes and dreams, just empty lip service about social justice and social solidarity.

The Compendium, by contrast, says the Church wants to “make a family wage a concrete reality.”

The Compendium says:

“Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system."

Only secular governments can make anything “mandatory” on employers and employees. Charitable organizations have no such power.

Without government intervention, all these worker rights identified by the Church would never have any chance of being respected.

The Compendium says:

“Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income.”

Only the state can establish “social policies for the redistribution of income.” Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army do not set “social policies for the redistribution of income.”

Bartolome,

Interesting use of paraphrase there. :rolleyes:

For example:

“Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good.

is not anywhere near the same thing as:

I didn’t know about the Church’s demand that governments establish Full Employment for all able people of working age.

a) the Church doesn’t “demand” it, it defines it.
b) saying that an economic system must not create barriers to employement (the Church’s teaching) or even that full employment is a mandatory objective, does not mean that full employment is a required state.

Full employment can never be fully realized as long as humans have full will to refuse work or to get themselves fired.

All of these social doctrines can be summed up as safeguards against poverty. If we had even half of those elements going on in the USA, we could get a lot of people off of government assistance. As it stands right now, my employer was giving me 36hrs a week, which put my miniature family at $10k BELOW federal poverty level. They cut us back to 30 hrs a week. And I make more than minimum wage.

I don’t see what’s surprising about any of that? :shrug:

Perhaps the title of this thread should be “5 excellent elements of Catholic Social Doctrine”. :wink:

I know most secular governments of the world do not comply with the above points of Catholic Social Doctrine.

But I believe that most of the governments of the nations of northern Europe have implemented all those policies for the past 60 years or so, and have, on a per capita basis, the strongest economies in the world, and the highest average standard of living in the world.

If the worker who posted above lived in Norway, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, or the Netherlands, her family would not be in this predicament.

What a difference the Social Teachings of God make!

God doesn’t want a permanent underclass of working poor people. The Church has condemned that, and issued moral mandates for all secular governments to follow.

May more and more hard-hearted government leaders bend to obey God’s Social Doctrine, and above all, God’s Pro-Life Doctrine!

“Our Father…Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth…give us this day our daily bread…”

Yes, the teachings of God are excellent.

To me, these teachings were surprising because I really didn’t know they existed. For a long time, I’ve heard that God’s Church had a teaching about a Just Wage (minimum wage, family wage), but I wasn’t sure if it was really a moral requirement for governments to comply with.

Now, after having read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (available online), I see that it is really is a matter of moral doctrine, and it is an actual sin to willfully not comply with it. It is serious business. It is not a mere suggestion or hope or wish or idealistic pipe dream.

John Corapi has condemned socialism.

They are surprising because they are out of context.

Here’s the context.

What seems to elude many liberal Catholics is Catholic Social Doctrine teaches EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY not in the equality of outcome, and that greater equality (redistribution) is the inevitable end result of the application of the actual social teaching of the Church, but it is NOT achieved via forced outcome equality by governmental fiat.

Yet this teaching (includes):
the regulated but free market (CA, #13,15,34; CSDC, #347
private ownership of property and the means of production (RN, #6,9; QA, #45; MM, #19; GS #71; LE, #11, 14; CA, #24, 30; SRS, #42; CCC, 2402-2403, 2405; CSDC, #282
bridled, regulated capitalism (MM, #55-8; CA, #42; LE, #14
presumption of independent individual and/or group INITIATIVE (RN, #15; QA, #79; MM, #55,57; GS, #64; PP, #15,18,30,33,70; LE, #5, SRS, #15,42,44; CA, #13,32; CSDC, #336,343; CCC, 2429; CV, #17,42)
• encourages entrepreneurial ability; (CA, #32;
the legitimacy of profit (CA, #35;
the value and role of competition (PP, #33,58,61; CA, #34,40; CSDC, #347;
• the creation of opportunity (CA, #35;
• laments cultural models and social norms that inhibit development (CV, #22;
REJECTS CLASS CONFLICT (RN, #4, 19; CA, #12,23;
condemns collectivism/socialism (RN, #4-5,15; QA, #46,111-120; PP, #33; MM, #34; LE, #14; CA, #12-13,41
REJECTS THE WELFARE STATE (CA, #48; CV, #57;
rejects dependency relationships based on aid (CV, #47
• the importance of education (MM, #61; PP, #35; SRS, #15,44; CA, #16,35; CV, #61;
• opening markets for broader access (CV, #58;
• establishment of the rule of law and democratic structures where lacking (SRS, #44; CA, #44; CV, #41;
• sharing scientific, medical, technical, and business know-how (PP, #48; CA, #32;
• cutting back on expensive aid bureaucracies for poor countries (CV, #47,60;
• opposition to religious fundamentalism and terrorism (SRS, #24, CA, #14,29,46; CV, #29;

These are all also mentioned in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

RN = Rerum Novarum – Pope Leo XIII, 1891
QA = Quadragesimo Anno – Pope Pius XI, 1931
MM = Mater et Magistra – Pope John XXIII, 1961
PT = Pacem in Terris – Pope John XXIII, 1963
GS = Gaudium et Spes – Vatican Council II, 1965
PP = Populorum Progressio – Pope Paul VI, 1967
LE = Laborem Exercens – Pope John Paul II, 1981
SRS = Solicitudo Rei Socialis – Pope John Paul II, 1987
CA = Centesimus Annus – Pope John Paul II, 1991
CV = Caritas in Veritate – Pope Benedict XVI, 2009
CSDC = Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church - Pontifical Council For Justice And Peace, 2004
CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., 1997

Catechism of the Catholic Church

2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice.221 In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. “Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.”222 Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages. (1867)

2431 The responsibility of the state. “Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. Hence the principal task of the state is to guarantee this security, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly… Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society.”

2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work

2430 Economic life brings into play different interests, often opposed to one another. This explains why the conflicts that characterize it arise.216 Efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts by negotiation that respects the rights and duties of each social partner: those responsible for business enterprises, representatives of wage-earners (for example, trade unions), and public authorities when appropriate.

2452 The goods of creation are destined for the entire human race. The right to private property does not abolish the universal destination of goods.

2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.207 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”208 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended

find this interesting, in Mexico in the socialist take over in the about the early 1910’s the US Bishops were against socialism, the government by force taking from one group and giving to another. Socialism was then, wrong, that taking from one group and giving to another.
in a similiar sense, at times it was seen as wrong to borrow money in a religious sense.
today, thier would be no education or consideration of this, as it comes, as tollerance by the church to gambling, alcohol consumption, or insurance.

its neat to note, that historical books could compare the islamist to the catholics and tollerance, and in that in europe two hundred and before years, it was pointed out as fact the islamic did NOT tollerate gambling, alcohol, prostitution, borrowing of money, but the europians did under Christian standards.
and for that, many Christians fleed Europe in the 1800’s to the US, yet it can be said today the US has made itself in a moral sense, what the people fleed Europe, your fore fathers to escape, the US as a civlization has made it self…

WE see this more so the the error of saying that today the church would condon socialism, its an error of superstion, not a fact of reality, to what God calls us to.

corapi isn’t and never has been in a position to condemn anything, and the Church has condemned socialism since the beginning

You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.”
(Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)

Bartolome,
When you read the SJ compendium, you need to understand that it is a modern re-casting of documents which have been wriitten over the course of 150 years. When Rerum Novarum was written, Pope Leo XIII did not write the governments should do this and that because there had been and still were certain mediating organizations. A set-up which would show another way of looking at this is the medieval economic system, in which guilds set the rates for the various levels of workers, taking into account the needs of the workers as well as their contribution, and tgis would if need be be enforced by the courts (the government). But in this case it would not be a centralized force which would be setting the r ates, it would be that in the case of a problem within the system which could not be solved within the system the government could be asked to help.

Remember that there are *two *parts to social justice, and the other one is subsidiarity.


I don’t know what to say to all of that. I agree with all those documents too. I too am a Catholic disciple of Jesus Christ, not an Ayn Rand disciple or a Karl Marx disciple.

In the original post, I quoted passages from an official, recent, authoritative document of the Vatican that says that the popes and bishops of the Catholic Church deem** Full Employment** and a Just Minimum Wage to be moral necessities to be advanced by government legislation whenever, as is the case in most economies, the free market does not produce Full Employment and a Just Minimum Wage. The passages that say that in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church are not vague, unclear, or obscure. They actually say that. So do many other Vatican and episcopal documents. That is the Church speaking. That is God speaking.

Are you saying that, despite that, those things really are morally illicit?

Even if a government passed a constitutional amendment saying that all those things are unconstitutional, that wouldn’t make then immoral, right? The Church of God is a higher authority than any government constitution, right? I saw that because some Americans interpret the U.S. Constitution as forbidding all government intervention in the economy to create fairness and social justice for workers. The Supreme Court has heard constitutional challenges to the minimum wage laws, and has said that they are constitutional, however.

But, the real issue for Catholics is not what a national constitution says, but what God says through His Church. The laws and constitutions and court decisions of nations cannot make anything moral or immoral, just illegal (in that territory).

Is there any Catholic Church document that says:
No government may mandate a Just Wage on any employer.
No government may mandate Full Employment for its citizens.

I’ve never seen any such document. All the documents I’ve seen puts the mandate in the reverse direction. They require that governments pass legislation providing a Just Minimum Wage (aka Family Wage) to all citizens and Full Employment for all citizens.

If there really is any document that clearly says that it is the teaching of the Catholic Church that no government may intervene in the economy to establish a Just Minimum Wage and Full Employment, I would be most grateful to be referred to such document. Thank you.

It is always very easy to look at Church documents and feel puzzled by what they are saying, until one realizes that the Church writes for all times and all peoples. The popes are not just looking at the US or the West; the popes are looking everywhere.

You seem to be assuming that the Church says the government must mandate full employment. Now, how is that supposed to work out? There are just too many problems with that. There are people who do not want to work; there are people who are in between jobs; and there are people who are incapable of working. Then what about the employers? Are they going to get quotas on how many people to hire? What happens if their business goes broke because they have too many people? Then all those people have no work… Obviously, this cannot be what the pope had in mind!

If we look at the whole thing upside down, however, we see that there are many *barriers *to full employment. For example, it is *extremely *difficult to start a business here in the US. If you want to start some sort of food business, for example, you have to have a dedicated kitchen which is inspected. That is a huge expense, which means you have to pretty much dedicate all the family resources to the matter, if you have that many resources. In Texas, they recently rescinded that, so that a person could start a small business (up to $50K/yr) out of one’s own kitchen as long as the food was clearly marked home-made. Do you see how this opens up a lot of tiny businesses, which could be started by, say, women with small children, and which could later be slowly expanded?

So one way the government can help to achieve full employment is by not erecting barriers to full employment.

Are you saying that, despite that, those things really are morally illicit?

You really have to look at the original documents to see what they say, and you need to consider what they were responding to.

Even if a government passed a constitutional amendment saying that all those things are unconstitutional, that wouldn’t make then immoral, right? The Church of God is a higher authority than any government constitution, right? I saw that because some Americans interpret the U.S. Constitution as forbidding all government intervention in the economy to create fairness and social justice for workers. The Supreme Court has heard constitutional challenges to the minimum wage laws, and has said that they are constitutional, however.

But at the same time, instituting minimum wage laws created a difference in employment levels for blacks and whites in the US. Is *that *right?

The pope was perfectly correct to point out that when it comes to employment, the worker is in a bad position. Free market anarchists act like everyone has an equal freedom of choice, like there are 20 million jobs out there for each person whose looking and posit that there are fair agreements being made between the workers and the employers. This is, as the pope pointed out, *completely untrue. *

Again, what is needed is subsidiarity. The local people need to be involved in the various standards which are being set, because otherwise you have the imposition of a minimum wage across a nation which is so huge that there are too many different living standards. In one area, minimum wage may be adequate for a single person to live on; in another, totally inadequate. What about when there are other aspects to the job, such as living accomodations? Etc.

But, the real issue for Catholics is not what a national constitution says, but what God says through His Church. The laws and constitutions and court decisions of nations cannot make anything moral or immoral, just illegal (in that territory).

Is there any Catholic Church document that says:
No government may mandate a Just Wage on any employer.
No government may mandate Full Employment for its citizens.

There is no Church document saying that there won’t be a unicycle show in the sanctuary at Mass, either.

I’ve never seen any such document. All the documents I’ve seen puts the mandate in the reverse direction. They require that governments pass legislation providing a Just Minimum Wage (aka Family Wage) to all citizens and Full Employment for all citizens.

Please quote or source the Church document which mandates this.

ETA: what you cited before–288. Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. “Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. A society in which the right to work is thwarted or systematically denied, and in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, “cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace”.[625] --does *not *say this.

There is no Church document saying that there won’t be a unicycle show in the sanctuary at Mass, either.

:bighanky:

I guess I should have chosen “bashed” instead of “condemned” in my original post in this thread. Sorry!

Actually, and it’s clear now from this post, you have been making the claim that church teaching makes it morally required of government that it must mandate (1) a just wage and (2) full employment.

However the very text you cite from the Compendium (#288) on full employment makes no reference to the government only to the “economic system.” Ditto for just wage–no mention of government.

Nice try at switching the burden of proof, but it is up to you to back up your claim that Catholic Social Teaching morally requires governments to mandate these when CST does not teach this. If there really is any document that clearly says that it is the teaching of the Catholic Church that government is morally requirred to intervene in the economy to establish by mandate a Just Minimum Wage and Full Employment, I would be most grateful to be referred to such document. Thank you.

As far as the Americans, the Constitution, and government intervention goes one can find “some” Americans who believe anything. Informed Americans know the government has and should regulate the economy to maintain equality of opportunity as is clear from Anti-Trust Legislation.

But the kind of forced equality of result by governmental fiat to impose (1) & (2) would involve a draconian and destructive act the implementation of which is hard to even imagine. How would it go? From now on, employers, every able-bodied person must be given a job and they must have a wage with which they can raise a family of four. How could an economy even begin to bear that? All these people now working with “just wages” couldn’t afford the price to cover the cost to produce the products under that regimen.

Also what is deemed a “just wage” is relative. #301 which you cite brings up its list making special reference to “developing countries.” We all deplore sweatshops, child labor, etc. But in developed countries far more people already have access to the necessities and the other desiderata listed in #301. In fact the relative nature of poverty, a just wage, and countries is made clear in this statistical study of what those dubbed “poor” by our government actually do have. Compare that with third-world countries and some developed ones as well. Also one has to take into account the affect of self-destructive decisions on poverty and wages as this study shows.

In searching for common ground I affirm that this issue is not about ideals to be supported by states and striven for by businesses. We agree on ideals. It is about which acts of government are morally required in CST–specifically about imposed, forced, and mandated equality of result as opposed to the protection of equality of opportunity. I see no such mandate in CST when taken as a whole and in context.

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