Pope Francis: Without work, human dignity is “wounded”

posted at 11:06 am on March 20, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

We’ve heard a lot of cheering recently for policies that lower prospects for employment as an end to so-called “job lock” and “wage slavery.” If it seems odd to root for reduced opportunity in favor of government subsidies, then this message today from Pope Francis will resonate. In an audience for employees of a steel manufacturer, the Pontiff underscored the connection between employment and human dignity, and urged political leaders to generate policies that expand job creation rather than diminish opportunities — and also attacked hoarding of capital, too:

“It is necessary to reaffirm that employment is necessary for society, for families and for individuals”, said the Pope. “Its primary value is the good of the human person, as it allows the individual to be fully realised as such, with his or her attitudes and intellectual, creative and manual capacities. Therefore, it follows that work has not only the economic objective of profit, but above all a purpose that regards man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Indeed, the unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion”.

“What can we say, when faced with the very serious problem of unemployment that affects various European countries?”, he asked. “It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money. Therefore, the various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all. Work is an asset for all, and must be available to all. Phases of serious difficulties and unemployment must be faced with the tools of creativity and solidarity. The creativity of courageous businesspeople and craftspeople, who look to the future with trust and hope. And solidarity between all the elements of society, who all give something up, adopting a more sober lifestyle, to help those in need”.

“This great challenge requires the involvement of the Christian community as a whole”, concluded the Pope. “The first challenge is to revive the roots of faith and of our adhesion to Jesus Christ. This is the inspiring principle in the choices of a Christian: faith. Faith moves mountains! Christian faith is able to enrich society through the concrete element of brotherhood it embodies. … Never cease to hope for a better future. Do not let yourselves be trapped in the vortex of pessimism! If everyone does his part, if we all put the human person and his dignity at the centre, and if we consolidate an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing, inspired by the Gospel, we can emerge from the swamp of this difficult and burdensome period of economic turmoil”.

This is a call on several levels for economic subsidiarity — the devolution of capital into broader use, rather than hoarding by a few, including governments that rely on crony capitalism to strangle opportunity. It challenges policymakers to focus on Main Street instead of Wall Street, to use a slogan of our own times here in the US, but emphasizes that human dignity and self-sufficiency are connected with each other.

We should not cheer Wall Street growing fatter on paper while opportunities dry up thanks to government policies. We should look for ways to reform our regulatory and tax regimes to protect consumers but stop favoring the biggest players in the markets. There is plenty of room in here for people of both political parties to find common ground.


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Pope Francis – rocking the work ethic thing. Love it

jake-the-goose on March 20, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Liberal commentariat to commence calling Pope Francis a racist in 3…2…1…

Resist We Much on March 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Obama and pajama boy won’t like this. Gee, hard work and dignity go together. Who would have ever thought that? The Pope will get serious blowback on this from the libs not because it is wrong but because it goes against the narrative.

major dad on March 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM

idle hands are the devil’s workshop, as the saying goes. common sense to most, a sign of racism to leftists. i can’t help but think of that Aussie kid who was shot because some kids were bored.

crrr6 on March 20, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Glad to see the Protestant Work Ethic is gaining traction.

Akzed on March 20, 2014 at 11:21 AM

We’ve heard a lot of cheering recently for policies that lower prospects for employment as an end to so-called “job lock” and “wage slavery.”

And aren’t those phrases comical in light of what passes for work, and a standard of living, in the third world? Pelosi would have everyone taking time off to become artists, writers, musicians, to “find themselves”, supported by those who do work.

LashRambo on March 20, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Obama must have his fingers stuck in his ears, stomping his feet and yelling NA, NA, NA, NA, NA,NA . . .NA.

rplat on March 20, 2014 at 11:22 AM

The Pope will get serious blowback on this from the libs not because it is wrong but because it goes against the narrative.

major dad on March 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Well, after all, the Pope is a old man. He doesn’t understand how many WOMEN are stuck in jobs they hate just so they have health benefits. /

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Glad to see the Protestant Work Ethic is gaining traction.

Akzed on March 20, 2014 at 11:21 AM

All right, I admit it, I laughed when I read this. Well played, sir. :-)

Ed Morrissey on March 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM

This is a call on several levels for economic subsidiarity — the devolution of capital into broader use, rather than hoarding by a few, including governments that rely on crony capitalism to strangle opportunity.

Gee, I don’t see the Roman Catholic Church divesting itself of its wealth for the betterment of mankind. And more than a few Catholics have benefited from crony capitalism through the Vatican bank.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Well, after all, the Pope is a old man. He doesn’t understand how many WOMEN are stuck in jobs they hate just so they have health benefits. /

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM

“’cause every girl crazy ’bout a HEALTH CARE PLAN”
~ Ed, hat tip ZZ Top

LashRambo on March 20, 2014 at 11:28 AM

First let me state I am a big supporter of capatilism.

I do however have serious problems with our current form of it. The majority of companies and most of what is culturally taught in business/MBAs is all about bottom line profit and wealth accumulation. The idea being it protects the business. What is no longer considered is business has a second element that is now missing as a focus. That is job creation. Most business would love nothing more than to remove all labor cost, ironically then with no one working who would buy the product?

Business has again become to amoral and has forgotten the human element. We need to remember creating jobs is as important as profit. That is a christian model for business.

I wish companies would start refocusing on increasing employment a little to make jobs more managable as opposed to always trying to keep a skeliton force chasing every penny of profit. Currently we are out of balance far to much to the all profit at all costs side.

Skwor on March 20, 2014 at 11:37 AM

With the kind of financialized system we have, the fruits of our labor is stolen from us before we even receive it. Financialization is one of the symptoms of a declining economy where the world of goods and services is shrinking.

When various elitists put themselves in charge of the money supply, they do untold mischief. It is a method of directing the flow of resources to themselves through their control of capital. By manipulating interest rates and printing money, the middle class has been destroyed. In such a world, “work” loses all meaning.

The idea of a job, the 40 hour work week, and the routine of the past 100 years is a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. In many ways our whole society reflects that time as well, including our ideas about education (13 years in a small gray room with 30 other children), our ideas about morality (work = godliness)… there is hardly a single institution that is not currently shaped by that world. But the that world’s time has ended.

As scarcity has slowly been conquered by automation and abundant energy, the need for many of our current social mores has waned. We are living through difficult times when the old order does not fit the new paradigm, and tens of millions of people are excluded from productive life by a system that cannot adapt.

This doesn’t mean that we should turn back the clock, but rather that new methods of organization should be allowed. The old world must be allowed to fade, and a new self-directed world of opportunity must be born. Rather than a nation of clock-punchers, we must become a nation of shopkeeps. Of course, the vested interest of the old system will do everything in their power to keep people distracted and foil any growth outside their tightly-controlled cartel economy.

There is tremendous opportunity for growth and happiness if we can avoid war. People can be productive again if the concept of central authority fades. We no longer need massive top-down structures with a few “Top Men” looking down on the rest of us from their positions of command, thanks to growing technology.

Prognosticators have written in the past that next era will be one of increasing decentralization, and personal freedom. It is slow in coming, but it does seem to be on the way. Soon these arguments about what Congress is going to do, and the whole idea of living our lives around the imperial edicts of DC will seem quaint.

Another Libertarian on March 20, 2014 at 11:43 AM

I wish companies would start refocusing on increasing employment a little to make jobs more managable as opposed to always trying to keep a skeliton force chasing every penny of profit. Currently we are out of balance far to much to the all profit at all costs side.

Skwor on March 20, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Yeah because, of course, the problem lies with evil corporate overlords and not crippling regulation, Obamacare costs, and other job-killing aspects of big government statism.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Well, bye.

6m
Westboro Baptist Church founder Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. dies, son says – @KansasFirstNews
read more on kansasfirstnews.com

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Just when the Left thought the new Pope was a Communist.

Tater Salad on March 20, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Speaking of Catholics:

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, says he has filed an application to march in the New York City Gay Pride Parade this year.

Well why not? If they gays can make a religious holiday and parade all about their sexual orientation, why can’t the Catholics march in a gay pride parade under the banner “straight is great!”

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Skwor on March 20, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Consider job creation might be best achieved as a side effect of the “invisible hand” of free markets. Job creation then results from a complicated agreement between those who do something, and those who like what those other people do. Isn’t there a dismal record of those who try to create jobs outside of the world of supply and demand, such as so-called “make work” jobs?

LashRambo on March 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Well, bye.

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Here’s hoping it’s true.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:53 AM

If it seems odd to root for reduced opportunity in favor of government subsidies,

Odd? It’s almost immoral. The worst, most stressful, degrading, depressing times of my life were the four months I spent looking for work. Feelings of worthlessness, frustration, hopelessness, I hope never to have to feel like that again.

I may work right up until the day I die, God willing.

scalleywag on March 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Awesome! We haven’t had a Pope thread in a few minutes./

This is pretty standard lefty speech. “Work is valuable, but greedy people get in your way, worker!”

“It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money. Therefore, the various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all…”

The RCC has been throwing out this double-speak for 100 years.

“And solidarity between all the elements of society, who all give something up, adopting a more sober lifestyle, to help those in need”.

Dignified Work and a Living Wage! Arbeit Macht Frei!

But then again, the Pope is always right!

“Boxer, who had now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: ‘If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.’ And from then on he adopted the maxim, ‘Napoleon is always right,’ in addition to his private motto of ‘I will work harder’.

mankai on March 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Well, bye.

6m
Westboro Baptist Church founder Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. dies, son says – @KansasFirstNews
read more on kansasfirstnews.com

Murphy9 on March 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

ABC just confirmed. The lights in hell are burning a little brighter tonight.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Pope Francis: Without work, human dignity is “wounded”

“Meh, I don’t need no dignity, but I just gotta have me my free obamastuff!!”

I may work right up until the day I die, God willing.

scalleywag on March 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM

I expect to do the same, even after retirement from my current job. Retirement doesn’t mean giving up working. I’ll find something productive to do.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Glad to see the Protestant Work Ethic is gaining traction.

Akzed on March 20, 2014 at 11:21 AM

.
BWAAAAAAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAH

ExpressoBold on March 20, 2014 at 12:24 PM

This is a call on several levels for economic subsidiarity — the devolution of capital into broader use, rather than hoarding by a few, including governments that rely on crony capitalism to strangle opportunity. It challenges policymakers to focus on Main Street instead of Wall Street, to use a slogan of our own times here in the US, but emphasizes that human dignity and self-sufficiency are connected with each other.

Great post Ed

Bravo Pope Francis

workingclass artist on March 20, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Good grief.

I just perused the capsule of the man’s statement, looking for some scriptural reference. Anything. You know, chapter x: verse y. Nothing. Seriously? Is this how you Catholics speak to each other?

You just rattle on and on about what makes sense to you. At the time. According to what ever happens to pop into your minds?

Here’s your $0.50 clue – there’s an entire book about stuff. You can quote. Here, let me help you out:
http://www.biblegateway.com/

Good grief. Again.

chuckh on March 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Speaking of Catholics:

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, says he has filed an application to march in the New York City Gay Pride Parade this year.

Well why not? If they gays can make a religious holiday and parade all about their sexual orientation, why can’t the Catholics march in a gay pride parade under the banner “straight is great!”

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM

That’ll be interesting…

workingclass artist on March 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Good grief.

I just perused the capsule of the man’s statement, looking for some scriptural reference. Anything. You know, chapter x: verse y. Nothing. Seriously? Is this how you Catholics speak to each other?

You just rattle on and on about what makes sense to you. At the time. According to what ever happens to pop into your minds?

Here’s your $0.50 clue – there’s an entire book about stuff. You can quote. Here, let me help you out:
http://www.biblegateway.com/

Good grief. Again.

chuckh on March 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM

slow day…bored?

workingclass artist on March 20, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Yeah because, of course, the problem lies with evil corporate overlords and not crippling regulation, Obamacare costs, and other job-killing aspects of big government statism.

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Consider job creation might be best achieved as a side effect of the “invisible hand” of free markets. Job creation then results from a complicated agreement between those who do something, and those who like what those other people do. Isn’t there a dismal record of those who try to create jobs outside of the world of supply and demand, such as so-called “make work” jobs?

LashRambo on March 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM

You are missng my point. I am saying I wish business would start considering job creation as important as profit and look for opportunites to create jobs in alignment with profit. Today’s current business philosophy is focused soley on profit and accumualtion of wealth, this is also the focus of MBA studies.

I am not for the govenrment intervening, I am for large business to start remembering there is a human element to consider. Something the small local business still manages to do such as giving that teenager a job cleaning floors and shelves, the small business owner can make other employees do this as a collatoral duty but instead the help the community out by hiring that teenager (assuming the goverment doesn’t wreck it with stupid minimum wage requirments).

I work for a very large company and they literally 4 times a year make everyone take a day to clean up the sight, paint structures and clean the roads and general grounds. The company does this while not alloting for the fact we lose a day in our other duties, we are expected to make it up level of effort (typically this means more unpaid overtime). The reason for this is increasing profit, this has been specifically stated. The company is in no dire need but yet here the professional empoyees are supplementing low wage labor to improve the bottom line profit to prevent increasing labor costs associated with low wage jobs. This practice lowers the need for low wage labor, ergo jobs, for the community.

This isn’t a company trying to remian solvent issue, this is a practice soley for every extra bit of profit possible. In this case to the detriment of jobs. This imo is an example of an amoral business practice.

Skwor on March 20, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Odd? It’s almost immoral. The worst, most stressful, degrading, depressing times of my life were the four months I spent looking for work. Feelings of worthlessness, frustration, hopelessness, I hope never to have to feel like that again.

I may work right up until the day I die, God willing.

scalleywag

I know exactly what you mean. I felt the same way the four months I found myself forced to work, er ,wait…

Mason on March 20, 2014 at 1:34 PM

It’s not that complicated. Brace yourselves, in order for man to have dignity and live their lives in the image and likeness of God, man must have work. In the beginning, God labored for 6 days and then rested on the 7th. God invented the work ethic – it is by no means a Protestant invention or perfection. God created Adam to tend the Garden of Eden. Adam’s labor allowed him to have the dignity to live in the image and likeness of God. God loves all his children and all God’s children must help brethren serve God in his image and likeness. Society is comprised of all of God’s children. Society must allow each of us to have the dignity to work. The Pope has no problem with Capitalism or anyone making enormous amounts of money as long as the enterprise is not denying anyone of their pursuit to live in the image and likeness of God. Do you really believe the Pope is being political or outdoing Milton Friedman or can you see his position more perfectly if you consider it anagogically? The first paragraph of the Pope’s excerpt clearly conveys this precept.

The second paragraph is no more difficult to relate than the first. Europe’s Christianity is indirectly giving way to Islam and atheism; directly, Europe’s Christianity is giving way to destruction of society by organizing labor instead of societally promoting the dignity for all from providing labor for all.

ericdijon on March 20, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Without work, human dignity is “wounded”

My wife & I recently interviewed a single mom about the possibility of helping her family with our charity.
She works seven days a week, eight hours a day.
Every week she earns 450 Philippine pesos. That’s…about $10.*
During our talk, she never once whined, begged, or persuaded.
She actually said her family was already happy.

In the US, there are many folks with late-model cars & big-screen TVs who whine about their “poverty.”

*(Yes, her wage is illegally low, but not all that uncommon)

itsnotaboutme on March 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Obama and pajama boy

won’t like this.

major dad on March 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Can’t we just combine them into one name? Ojama boy?

aunursa on March 20, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Skwor – you are dangerously missing the point. The minute a business begins to worry about hiring more people as a business metric is the minute they go out of business, and everyone becomes unemployed. The purpose of a business is to provide a return to the owners or shareholders, That’s it. Employment is a happy side effect. I should always be trying to hire the right amount of employees – not too many or too few. Capital is allocated where it is treated most efficiently.

Now, as the Pope has mentioned along with many others, creating govt policy to allow capital to be coddled and warped by poor tax and regulatory policies and the ability of large capital holders to sway inordinate influence over the creation of these policies is a problem. Attacking that is excellent. Suggesting that a failure to consider increasing employment levels as a success in a business unto itself is amoral/immoral is folly.

Zomcon JEM on March 20, 2014 at 2:44 PM

I just perused the capsule of the man’s statement, looking for some scriptural reference. Anything. You know, chapter x: verse y. Nothing. Seriously? Is this how you Catholics speak to each other?
Good grief. Again.

chuckh on March 20, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Maybe you should go beyond “perusing capsules” and study the teachings of the Church before commenting. I think you’ll see chapter and verse cited quite often in the catechism and other church documents. Also in the Mass.

kcewa on March 20, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Good article, and interesting read. However, I hoped to read more of Francis’ statements & context- is there a link I missed?

(I know I could google- just used to seeing hyperlinks to jump to cited material)

cs89 on March 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Everything the Pope talks about there is made much worse through the big central government Marxism that he has called out to be put in place.

Look at history, the system that has done the most for the most people has been free market Capitalism. Marxism has put the enslaved peoples into poverty, misery and removed all human dignity.

RJL on March 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Good article, and interesting read. However, I hoped to read more of Francis’ statements & context- is there a link I missed?

(I know I could google- just used to seeing hyperlinks to jump to cited material)

cs89 on March 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

That’s my fault – I got the quotes from the Vatican press office, so there are no links. It’s probably being covered in the Italian press, but my Italian is so rusty I’d probably end up linking to a lasagna recipe.

Ed Morrissey on March 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Link, in English (not lasagna recipe) :)

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Ed Morrissey on March 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Thank you both!

cs89 on March 20, 2014 at 5:04 PM

We should not cheer Wall Street growing fatter on paper while opportunities dry up thanks to government policies. We should look for ways to reform our regulatory and tax regimes to protect consumers but stop favoring the biggest players in the markets. There is plenty of room in here for people of both political parties to find common ground.

But you will never get the leadership of the parties to agree, because they are afraid of “giving in” to the other side, or they are too stupid to see the value of agreement. Or something.
The sad thing is that so many rank-and-file people of both parties can agree on workable, and necessary, compromises, but we can’t get the Washington careerists (and, in some cases, the corrupt) on board.

AesopFan on March 20, 2014 at 9:41 PM