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1981: Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens (‘On Human Work’)

14 September All day

“Pope John Paul II issued Laborem Exercens to mark the ninetieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum. It is also known by the English title On Human Labour. John Paul II’s own experience as a manual labourer and his personalist philosophical ethics shape this social encyclical.

Unemployment and the impact of technology on work are major concerns of this encyclical. As well as affirming a right to work, to a just wage, and to form unions, Laborem Exercens introduces the concept of an ‘indirect employer’…

Laborem Exercens concludes with a spirituality of work. This spirituality focuses on the role of work in the transformation of nature and in personal fulfillment, the provision of the basis of family life, and contributing to the common good. John Paul II values the subjective over the objective dimensions of work. Work is valuable because it is the free act of a human person who is a subject and not an object.”

Sandie Cornish, Introduction to Laborem Exercens, Social Spirituality.