The dignity of work has been a key principle of Catholic social teaching from the very beginning.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labour). He shone a light on the injustice and exploitation of workers by the rich during the Industrial Revolution. He advocated for workers to join forces and fight against inhuman conditions.
Since then, Church teaching has upheld the dignity of work and participation. The human person should always come before the pursuit of profit. Workers have the right to join trade unions, to a just wage, to spend time with their families and to rest. Work is an essential part of our human dignity and everyone has the right to participate.
The Catholic social teaching principle of human dignity is about understanding that each of us is made in God’s image. Every person has an innate human dignity no one can take away. Human dignity is given freely to all human beings.
‘Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work anoints us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, who always acts…’ Pope Francis, Feast of St Joseph the Worker, May 2013