Master of Arts (MA)
Religion & Culture / Religious Studies
Faculty of Arts
The task of this thesis is to show that from the nineteenth century to the present Catholic Scoial Teaching recognized increasingly the need for social justice in the areas of labour and society. In order to do this, I propose to research carefully the major official Church documents on Catholic social teaching on human labour from Pople Leo XIII’s Enevelical, Rerum Novarum (The Condition of Labour), 1891, up to Pope John II’s Enevelical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), 1981. I will also attempt to define what Catholic Social Teaching is and explain what are the principles which make up the social teaching of the Catholic Church—principles which are drawn from scripture, concepts of natural law and the sciences. Reference will also be made to Karl marx where his philosophy on labour is applicable. To support the position of the Catholic Church in its teaching on social justice in the workplace while at the same time given that position clarity from my own point of view, I will speak briefly on my evolution as a worker, a union steward, and Catholic layman. I believe this is necessary because what I am today and how I feel about social justice (or the lack of it), especially in the workplace, has its roots in my early tradition and gradually evolved. Just as the Catholic Church in its writings down through the ages has consistently recognized the plight of the worker, I, too, as a worker, gradually became aware of many visible injustices in the workplace, although I was relatively powerless to do anything about them. In developing my thesis, I will draw upon my thirty-eight years’ experience as a member of Canada’s work-force, thirty-four of which were spent in the telecommunication field. By referring to specific work-related problems I encountered over the years, I will demonstrate why there is such a need for social justice in the workplace, and why I as both Catholic and worker ultimately became a strong advocate for some form of legal machinery to help resolve these problems. I will briefly touch on some incidents that immediately preceded the majority vote for the Communication Workers of Canada (CWC) as the bargaining agent for the Phone Company’s craft and clerical employees in place of the Employees’ Association. As one of the first union stewards and Chairman of the Political Action Committee for the CWC, I will relate a few of the many cases I resolved for fellow workers, in contrast with what the Association has been able to do for this group of workers. I will show why I agree wholeheartedly with the Catholic Church’s present position on and support of the trade union movement as a vehicle for social justice in the workplace. All of the Popes with whom I will be dealing, Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, called for social justice in the workplace and advocated unions as bargaining agents for the worker. Their writings and those of other brilliant Catholic churchmen and laymen demonstrate how the Catholic Church has evolved in the area of social justice and labour. It is this broader Catholic support which has allowed me to find my proper place as a worker advocate. Thus, autobiographical reflection will provide the impetus which inspired me to analyze the papal enevelicals of the Catholic Church.
Campbell, Hugh J., "The evolution of modern Catholic social teaching on labour and social justice" (1985). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 85.