Monday, September 03, 2007

The Church on Labor and Society: Part 6

Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Last in my series of quotations from the Church on issues related to labor and society is the following collection on the theme of just wages. For more quotations from the Church's rich history and teaching on social issues, go here. I hope you've had a blessed Labor Day!

Pax Christi,
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Just Wages

Among the most important duties of employers, the principal one is to give all workers what is justly due them. Assuredly, to establish a rule of pay in accord with justice, many factors must be taken into account. But, in general, the rich and employers must remember that no laws, either human or divine, permit them for their own profit to oppress the needy and the wretched or to seek gain from another’s want. To defraud anyone of the wage due him/ her is a great crime that calls down avenging wrath from Heaven: Behold, the wages of the laborers . . . which have been kept back by you unjustly, cry out: and their cry has entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts (Jas 5:4).
-- Rerum Novarum, #20

A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay, both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. Remuneration for work should guarantee humans the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for themselves and their 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 (Gaudium et Spes, #67). Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2434

Finally, remuneration for labor is to be such that people may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily their own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of their dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good.
-- The Church and the Modern World, #67

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