Pope John Paul II, 1981, On Human Work
Laborem Exercens commemorates the ninetieth anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. The context of which it was written then was that of the emerging crisis of the Communist systems in Central and Eastern Europe (Solidarity). Pope John Paul II understood just how that system had failed to recognize the dignity of work. From his experience, he became aware that any form of materialism or economic system that tries to reduce the worker to being a mere instrument of production, a simple labor force with an exclusively material value, inevitably ends up distorting the essence of work and the social fabric itself.
The Encyclical revolves around ten major themes: 1) the meaning and dignity of work 2) the subjective and objective dimensions of work 3) the value scale of work 4) work and the mystery of creation 5) a spirituality of work 6) work and question of justice 7) work and various ideologies 8) work and its abuse 9) work and common good and lastly 10) work and community
John Paul II affirms the dignity of work and places work at the center of the social question. The Encyclical highlights four main points: the subordination of work to man; the primacy of the worker over the instruments that historically constitute the world of labor; the rights of the human person as the determining factor of all socioeconomic, technological, and productive processes, and some elements that can help all men identify with Christ through their work.
I. Work and Man
The Church is convinced that work is a fundamental dimension of man's existence on earth. The source of the Church's conviction is revealed in the book of Genesis. God’s command to Adam and Eve was “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth ...
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