Dignity of Work

 Francis on dignity of work


Catholic Social Teaching is clear: All human beings have a right to safe employment and a fair wage.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teaches:

The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

Current Advocacy Position – U.S. Bishops

The Catholic bishops of the United States have long held that the most effective way to build a just economy is to make decent work at decent wages available for all those capable of working. When the economy fails to generate sufficient jobs, there is a moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of unemployed and underemployed workers and their families.

Despite some signs of an improved economy, a deeper look indicates ongoing hardships for many people, wrote Archbishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a 2014 Labor Day Statement.

The economy is not generating enough jobs for everyone who wants to work – there are twice as many unemployed job seekers as available jobs. Seven million part-time workers would like to work full time.

Young adults have been particularly affected, with an unemployment rate of 13 percent. And many young adults who are employed have jobs that pay poorly. More college graduates are moving back in with their parents because of the combination of debt and limited job opportunities.

Wenski suggests that faithful Catholics support the following:

  • Policies and institutions that create decent jobs, pay just wages and create stable conditions for forming families;
  • Raising the minimum wage;
  • More and better workforce training programs;
  • Smarter regulations that minimize unintended consequences for workers


Selected Gospel passages and dignity of work:

Matthew 20:1-16
All workers should be paid a just and living  wage.

Mark 2:27
The Sabbath was made for people, not people  for the Sabbath.

Luke 3:10-14
Practice integrity in your work.

Luke 12:13-21
One’s worth is not determined by an abundance  of possessions.


For Further Reflection:

  • Do I see my work as gift from God? How is this reflected in my attitude at my work?
  • Do I see my work as vocation?
  • Do I promote a culture of life through my work?
  • Do I live a divided life, where I separate the Gospel principles from my work?
  • Do I seek the sacraments regularly and with attention to how they support and inform my work practices?
  • Am I sharing my spiritual life/understanding of work with others in my work life?
  • Am I taking seriously, the dignity of the person in my work, as an employee?
  • Am I being just in my attentiveness to my personal performance?
  • Am I promoting integral human development while ensuring that the company I work for is efficient?


Prayer to St. Joseph, Patron of Workers

St. Joseph, patron of workers,
Help us to respect the dignity of all workers.
Help us to learn about and to care about
Workers who do not have fair wages, just benefits, safe working environments.
Help us to raise our voices for justice for workers.
Help us to ask our government and our representatives
To develop policies that create jobs with dignity.
You taught your son
The value of work and the joy of work well done.
Teach us these lessons.
Guide us in our own work
And in the work of justice we are all called to participate in.
Renew our strength and commitment
Each day as we face the work ahead
As we labor for the common good of all.


Read more:

Pope Francis on the Dignity of Work – in America Magazine

Bishops’ Labor Day 2014 Statement 

Primer on Labor and Catholic Social Teaching 

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