The condition of the workers is the question of the hour. It will be answered one way or another, rationally or irrationally, and which way it goes is of the greatest importance to the state. Rerum Novarum – ‘Off New Things’ paragraph 58.1 (1891)

Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature. Laborem Exercens – ‘On Human Work’  (1981)


Further explanation



1. Taking Responsibility

Reflecting on Catholic Social Teaching to take responsibility for each other has inspired Justice and Peace Groups in Scotland to supply fairtrade products to parishes, in the knowledge of the fairer deal it brings for farmers in the developing world.

2. Life and Work – A Deacon’s View

Deacon Pat Taylor reflects on how entering into work for the good of the family has had a detrimental impact on family life, especially for women who can spend very little time with their children. To build a better community, Christians should therefore get involved with others and businesses should be encouraged to act equitably, realising happy workers are likely to be productive workers.

3. Thoughts on living simply

Jim O’Keefe, a parish priest shares his thoughts on living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with one another. To livesimply is when we discover we are content with less, to live sustainably – realising we are sustained by God, and to live in solidarity with each other – by having a deep respect for our sisters and brothers throughout the world.

4. Importance of Simplicity

Living simply allows us to be closer to God as material possessions and lavish lifestyles often prevent this, inhibiting us to help others. By practising a life of simplicity encourages people to act in selflessness, justice and charity.

5. Unbridled Consumerism

This reflection reminds us of the teachings of Centesimus Annus No. 36, outlining the flaws of consumerism – which does not sustain a healthy growth. We are reminded of the problem with wanting a style of life presumed better because it is directed towards having rather than being.

6. Role of Government

It is easy to see how local and central government can control our lives. It is important for us to become involved and show interest in the political process not leaving responsibility to others.

7. Role of Government in Timor-Leste

Various people from the community in Timor-Leste reflect on their hopes for Timor Leste,  including their hopes for what government will do, opportunities for women, minimising poverty and preventing less tragedy which has previously been seen.


8. Valuable work

Farmers from El Salvador ask God to enrich the soil through their work, and as humble farmers they ask for strength. They also pray for God to protect them from those who are greedy, making commerce of the land, water and the earth.



1. The Challenge to put people first remains

The G20 meeting in London in Spring 2009 allowed organisations to join together to promote their message of putting the marginalised first, with the poor at the centre of the decision making. Christine Allen, director of Progressio describes what the day meant for economic rethinking and global structures.

2. Human Flourishing – what makes people happy?

A recent poll conducted by CAFOD, Tearfund and Theos looks at what makes people happy. The report calls for a change in the model of finding material wealth and pursuing economic growth at all costs. As Christians we will flourish when the conditions that allow us to live in the right relationship with one another are met and when we contribute generously to the common good.

3. London Citizens

Church teaching has consistently demanded the rights of workers to a just wage. This means in practice that they should have enough to meet their needs and those of their family if they have one. One organisation which has campaigned hard in this area is London Citizens.

4. Catholics in Kyrgyzstan – a forgotten people

Hania Lubienska, a Jesuit Mission’s worker visited Kyrgyzstan meeting with other Jesuits in the aim of helping them deal with their social problems. They found it was hard to live as a Catholic as religious laws are getting stricter and life for priests are especially hard. This story describes how summer camps run by the Jesuits for Catholic young people and interfaith camps for Muslims allow faith to continue to blossom amongst young people.

5. Living out option for the poor: Frei Henri in Brazil

Father Henri De Roziers has been working in Brazil for the past 30 years defending the rights of the landless, as part of the Pastoral Land Commission. Read the accounts of the farmers to see how he has impacted on their lives.

6. Celebrity Culture and technology: challenges for a school chaplain

The life and work of a school chaplain is rewarding though challenging. Two Jesuit priests tell us about their experience with the pupils and how they relate to Christ and Evangelism considering the constant distractions that can impact on the way young people practise faith.

7. Take time to discover life’s small miracles

Kyra Noblet has recently returned from Dodoma in Tanzania, where she worked in the local school, youth centre and Cheshire Home, as part of the JM Volunteers programme. Here she reflects upon one timely affect of her experience.

8. Made in Dagenham

The film ‘Made in Dagenham’ focuses on the strike by women workers in demanding equal pay at the Ford plant in 1968. Although we have seen huge improvements for women’s equality in the UK, there is still much more to be done to lessen the divide. This is particularly relevant considering the recent government spending cuts which will hit women and ultimately families the hardest.

9. A view from the field

Teach A Man To Fish’s ‘education that pays for itself’ model is for schools to set up rural enterprises to provide free education to students from low income families and to teach students valuable and practical entrepreneurial skills that they can use to set up their own businesses later on. Field worker Rebecca Dadzie works with a community in La Bastilla, Nicaragua. She explains how the project in the region will help to increase self sufficiency and provide a better future for the children there.

10. The struggle of lesbian and gay members of the Catholic Church

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 gay and lesbian members of the Catholic Church. Both Martin and Maria have struggled over the years to open up a space for lesbian and gay people in the Church. Here Martin and Maria talk about the highs and lows of being gay and lesbian in the Catholic Church and why its inherently inclusive teachings are attracting more Christians to join.

Role Models:

11. Sister Dorothy Stang

Sister Dorothy Stang was a missionary who spent a good part of her life in Brazil organizing poor rural settlers and fighting alongside local environmentalists to protect their land. She was labelled a martyr when she was killed for fighting alongside locals for the conservation of a jungle area in Brazil. Read more about her work and the conviction of her murderer.



Back to: Catholic Social Teaching