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AUTHOR

POPE JOHN PAUL II


Personal connection to the encyclical:
the pope as a worker, oppressed and exploited
MILIEU
1989: SHIFT OF ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Aftermath of the Cold War, fresh from a clash of beliefs and ideologies
Socialist and communist v. democratic and capitalist
TEXT
INTRODUCTION
Keywords:
Dignity
Responsibility
Selflessness
Solidarity
Emphasis on others/kapwa
1: RERUM NOVARUM

Radical change in the world, commodification of labor


o Conflict between labor and capitalism
o Condemnation of class struggle, creation of paradigm

Affirmation of workers rights


o private property
o formation of private professional associations
o legitimate working hours
o just wage
o discharge of religious duties

Promotion of the dignity of work and the worker


o dignity of work: to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various
purposes of life, and first of all for self-preservation
o work: personal, inasmuch as the energy spent is bound with the personality and is exclusive
property of him who acts -- also, says that work is given to person for his advantage

Emphasis on sound political organization


o the more that individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require the care and
concern of others, and in particular the intervention of governmental authority

2: NEW THINGS

perceiving the condition of the working class


recognizing the evil of socialism viewed then as a solution to the unjust distribution of wealth and
poverty of workers
o What is wrong with socialism?
envy, deprivation, distortion

Conflicting views on the nature of the individual


o Socialism: individual as element
good is subordinated to the socio-economic mechanism
o Christianity: individual as a part of a group
groups have a view of the common good
Fundamental error of socialism: misunderstanding of the human person as simply an element, springs
from atheism and results in a distortion of law and human freedom
o Atheism and contempt for the human person cause class struggle and militarism
Role of the State, role of the workers movement in economic reform

Responses by countries after the destruction caused by war


o democratic society inspired by social justice
o systems of national security aimed at controlling whole society
o consumer society

3: THE YEAR 1989

in Eastern Europe, oppressive regimes fell; some Third World countries began a transition to more just
and participatory structures
Factors that contributed to the fall of oppressive regimes:
o violation of workers rights
o inefficiency of the economic system
o spiritual void brought about by atheism
Peace and prosperity are goods that belong to the whole human race
Non-violent, peaceful protest; prayer and trust in God

It is by uniting his own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross
that man is able to accomplish the miracle of peace and is in a position to discern the often narrow path
between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting evil, only
makes it worse.

Politics as a secular religion


o Harmony of personal interest and interest of society
suppression of self-interest leads to a burdensome system of bureaucratic control
o political society v. Kingdom of God

Consequences of the events


o opportunities for human freedom to cooperate with Gods plan
encounter between the church and workers movement
accumulation of hatred and ill-will from injustices

the Churchs social doctrine of (as well as concrete commitment to) integral human liberation does not
necessitate an impossible compromise between Christianity and Marxism
Need for international structures to help countries
material and moral reconstruction
Holistic development
o fully human, and not merely economic, terms; advancement of the poor
o change in priorities and values

4: PRIVATE PROPERTY

Affirmation
o Necessity and legitimacy of private ownership
o Limitations on private ownership
The right to private property is fundamental for the autonomy and development of the person but it is a
limited right
o The use of goods is subordinated to their common destination as created goods as well as the
will of Jesus Christ
o Man should consider his material possessions as common to all
As in owner, but letting others profit from it
Foundation of the universal destination of earths goods: everything being the creation of God
Earth does not yield its fruits without a particular human response to Gods gift
o Through work
Origin of individual property: man makes a part of earth his own through work
Ones work is interrelated with others
Work is work with others and work for others

At present, there exists a new form of ownership: knowledge


o Know-how, technology, skill
o Decisive factor of production is man himself
Risk: those with no means to acquire knowledge are displaced, marginalized, exploited
There is a need to keep up with the demands or update existing knowledge in
order not to be marginalized
o Marginalization is prevalent: developing and even in developed
countries

What must be had? Society of free work, of enterprise, and of participation


Church acknowledges the role of profit as indicator of business performance, but HUMAN and MORAL
factors must also be considered
o It is necessary to break down barriers and monopolies which hinder the development of
countries
COLLECTIVE EFFORT: to share in the development, efforts by entire international community
o Stronger nations must give opportunity to weaker ones
o Weaker nations must learn how to use these opportunities by:
making the necessary efforts and sacrifices
ensuring political and economic responsibility, certainty of better prospects for the
future, improvement of workers skills, training of competent and responsible business
leaders

Emergence of new threats; new responsibilities, new dangers


o Consumerism, use of power of choice
o Consumers must be educated
o Having v. Being
It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed
to be better when it is directed towards having rather than being, and which wants to
have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in
itself.
Excessive, disordered consumption of Gods gift
To have and to enjoy v. to be and to grow
Man is also Gods gift to man, thus he must respect the natural and moral
structure with which he has been endowed
o Man is shaped by environment
o Fundamental structure for human ecology is the family; formative
ideas
Necessary to go back to see the family as the sanctuary of
life

Alienation
o A person who is concerned solely or primarily with possessing and enjoying, no longer able to
control his instincts and passions is alienated
o When man does not recognize in himself and in others the value and grandeur of the human
person, he effectively deprives himself of the possibility of benefitting from his humanity and of
entering into that relationship of solidarity and communion with others for which God created
him.
o It is through the free gift of self that man truly finds himself
Gift is made possible through human persons capacity for transcendence
Man is alienated when he refuses to transcend himself and to live the
experience of self-giving and of the formation of an authentic human
community

After communism, is capitalism the answer?


o YES, if capitalism means an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive
role of business, the market, private property. And the resulting responsibility for the means of
production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector
o NO, if capitalism means a system where freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed
within a strong judicial framework which is subordinate to human freedom and where the core is
not ethical and religious
Ownership of the means of production is just and legitimate when it serves useful work; it becomes
illegitimate when it is not utilized or serves to impede the work of others.

The Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientationwhich recognizes the
positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to
be oriented towards the common good. The teaching also recognizes the legitimacy of the workers
efforts to obtain full respect for their dignity and to gain broader areas of participation in the life of
industrial enterprises so that, while cooperating with others and under the direction of others, they can in
a certain sense work for themselves through the exercise of their intelligence and freedom.

5: STATE AND CULTURE

Rerum Novarum presented the organization of society according to the three powers legislative,
executive, and judicial
o Preferable that each power be balanced by other powers
o No absolute power
o Rule of law: possibility of authentic democracy
It is necessary for people to give democracy an authentic and solid foundation through explicit
recognition for human rights
o Right to life
o Right to live in a united family
o Right to develop ones intelligence and freedom
o Right to share in the work which makes use of the earths resources and right to derive from that
work the means to support oneself and ones dependents
o Right to freely establish a family
o Right to have and rear children

The state shall guarantee individual freedom, private property, stable currency, and efficient public
service
The state shall oversee the exercise of human rights in the economic sector
o State has duty to sustain business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job
opportunities
Welfare State, or Social Assistance State: not favored; deprives society of its responsibility
o Leads to loss of energies and increase of public agencies; increases dependency
o Band-aid solution to a deeper human need
Collective responsibility
o Another name for peace is development
o There must be trust in the human potential of the poor; they must be provided with realistic
opportunities
Involves sacrificing positions of income and power enjoyed by more developed
economies
o There must be changes in lifestyles to limit the waste of environment and human resources

6: MAN IS THE WAY OF THE CHURCH

Principle that inspires the Churchs social doctrine: man is entrusted to the Church by Christ himself, for
man is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake and for which God has a plan
The Churchs social teaching is a valid instrument of evangelization
Intention for the teaching to be applied to countries which need a lack of direction in rebuilding
o Recognition of the aspects of poverty in modern society: economic, cultural, spiritual

What is needed is the gift of grace from God which, in cooperation with human freedom, constitutes the
presence of God in history
o Faith helps people find solutions and makes situations humanly bearable
o Call to action for cooperation, addressed to all: people who profess no religion, Christian
churches, world religions