Skip to comments.Unions and Catholic Social Teaching (Book review)
Posted on 02/26/2011 11:59:18 AM PST by fabrizio
The issue of labor unions has recently been a cause of much heated debate. Throughout the United States, there are many states facing budget shortfalls and are trying to rejuvenate struggling economies. State expenses are being slashed, and union benefits are just one of many expenditures on the cutting block for many states. Recent events in Wisconsin have caused many people to engage in the debate of union benefits, and many more are still left wondering where to stand on this current hot button issue.
In his monograph, Liberating Labor, Charles W. Baird seeks to answer questions regarding how the Catholic social teaching view unions and the role unions should play if they are to uphold the ideas held by Catholic social teaching.
Baird articulates that unions are fully endorsed by Catholic social teaching and are justified on the grounds of freedom of association. In Quadragesimo Anno, Pius XI conveys that freedom of association is a natural right. Furthermore, in Sertum Laetitiae, Pius XII states, it is not possible without injustice to deny or to limit either to the producers or the laboring and farming classes the free faculty of association.
However, while the right to unionization is supported by freedom of association, there are parameters under Catholic social teaching that unions should follow.
Baird further explains papal views concerning unions and how those have designed the current viewpoint regarding unions. According to Baird, Libertas, and encyclical written by Leo XIII on the nature of human liberty in the Catholic thought, expresses that:
liberty requires being free to choose and this freedom of making choices is the essence of free will. This implies, for example, that in the market for representation services, workers should have alternatives from which to choose, including self-representation.
Later in Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII declares that workers must have the freedom to choose not to associate with unions whose actions are not consistent with the Catholic teaching, and, based on the freedom of association and the principle of voluntary exchange, compulsory unionism is forbidden by the Church.
Leo XIII is just one of the many papal leaders who Baird cites. Throughout his monograph Baird communicates support against forced unionism that is not coherent to Catholic social teaching by Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, and John Paul II.
Not only does Baird criticize the current state of unionization, but he also offers a model for improvement. Voluntary unionism, will fulfill the rights supported by freedom of association, and, as Baird explains, one aspect of voluntary unionization is that, Each worker would be fee to choose which, if any union from which to obtain representation services. Such a model does not force workers into a union, gives them the option to represent themselves if they so desire, and does not force workers to paying union dues even when the worker chooses not to be represented by the union he or she is paying dues to.
Apparently freedom of association does not apply to employers!
Furthermore, in Sertum Laetitiae, Pius XII states, it is not possible without injustice to deny or to limit either to the ******* producers ******* or the laboring and farming classes the free faculty of association.
What the Popes Really Say About Socialism
TFP Student Action ^ | Gustavo Solimeo
Posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 5:33:23 PM by ChinaGotTheGoodsOnClinton
Encyclical of Pope John XXIII, On Establishing Universal Peace In Truth, Justice, Charity, And Liberty, April 11, 1963
Mans personal dignity requires besides that he enjoy freedom and be able to make up his own mind when he acts.
In his association with his fellows, therefore, there is every reason why his recognition of rights, observance of duties, and many-sided collaboration with other men, should be primarily a matter of his own personal decision.
Each man should act on his own initiative, conviction, and sense of responsibility, not under the constant pressure of external coercion or enticement.
There is nothing human about a society that is welded together by force.
Far from encouraging, as it should, the attainment of mans progress and perfection, it is merely an obstacle to his freedom.
Hence, a regime which governs solely or mainly by means of threats and intimidation or promises of reward, provides men with no effective incentive to work for the common good.
And even if it did, it would certainly be offensive to the dignity of free and rational human beings.
Consequently, laws and decrees passed in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience, since it is right to obey God rather than men.
Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI teach that the individual Christians responsibilities toward God fall in this order:
..an authentic...theology: [is] one that puts
 God and the life of the spirit first,
 direct charitable care of others second,
 and only then draws consequences for a just social order.
What the Popes Have to Say About Socialism (Ecumenical)
American TFP ^ | 02/24/2010 | Gustavo Solimeo
Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 11:33:29 AM by Pyro7480
After examining the ideology of socialism, the contrast between the socialist doctrine and the doctrine of the Church becomes clear and consistent.
All the same, it is not out of place to review the condemnation of the popes starting with Pius IX and ending with Benedict XVI. Thus, we present what the popes have to say about socialism as they condemn the socialist doctrine thoroughly and entirely. This is not a comprehensive compilation, but just some samples.
PIUS IX (1846-1878):
Overthrow [of] the entire order of human affairs
You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings. (Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)
LEO XIII (1878-1903):
...communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin. (Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881)
Ruin of all institutions
... For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists (Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27).
A sect that threatens civil society with destruction
We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning - the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever. Surely, these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty. (Jud. 8). (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)
Socialists debase the natural union of man and woman and assail the right of property
They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith (1 Tim. 6:10.3), they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life. (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)
...socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to destroy the State even to its foundations. (Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888)
Enemy of society and of Religion
...there is need for a union of brave minds with all the resources they can command. The harvest of misery is before our eyes, and the dreadful projects of the most disastrous national upheavals are threatening us from the growing power of the socialistic movement. They have insidiously worked their way into the very heart of the community, and in the darkness of their secret gatherings, and in the open light of day, in their writings and their harangues, they are urging the masses onward to sedition; they fling aside religious discipline; they scorn duties; they clamor only for rights; they are working incessantly on the multitudes of the needy which daily grow greater, and which, because of their poverty are easily deluded and led into error. It is equally the concern of the State and of religion, and all good men should deem it a sacred duty to preserve and guard both in the honor which is their due. (Encyclical Graves de Communi Re, January 18, 1901, n. 21)
SAINT PIUS X (1903-1914):
The dream of re-shaping society will bring socialism
But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, the reign of love and justice ... What are they going to produce? ... A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train. (Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique [”Our Apostolic Mandate”] to the French Bishops, August 15, 1910, condemning the movement Le Sillon)
BENEDICT XV (1914-1922):
The condemnation of socialism should never be forgotten
It is not our intention here to repeat the arguments which clearly expose the errors of Socialism and of similar doctrines. Our predecessor, Leo XIII, most wisely did so in truly memorable Encyclicals; and you, Venerable Brethren, will take the greatest care that those grave precepts are never forgotten, but that whenever circumstances call for it, they should be clearly expounded and inculcated in Catholic associations and congresses, in sermons and in the Catholic press. (Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914, n. 13)
PIUS XI (1922-1939):
Socialism, fundamentally contrary to Christian truth
... For Socialism, which could then be termed almost a single system and which maintained definite teachings reduced into one body of doctrine, has since then split chiefly into two sections, often opposing each other and even bitterly hostile, without either one however abandoning a position fundamentally contrary to Christian truth that was characteristic of Socialism. (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 111)
Socialism cannot be reconciled with Catholic Doctrine
But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth. (Ibid. n. 117)
Catholic Socialism, a contradiction
[Socialism] is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist. (Ibid. n. 120)
PIUS XII (1939-1958):
The state can not be regarded as being above all
“To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations.” (Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, October 20, 1939, n. 60)
JOHN XXIII (1958-1963):
No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism
Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority. (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)
PAUL VI (1963-1978):
Too often Christians tend to idealize socialism
Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated. (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31)
JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005):
Socialism: Danger of a simple and radical solution
It may seem surprising that socialism appeared at the beginning of the Pope’s critique of solutions to the question of the working class at a time when socialism was not yet in the form of a strong and powerful State, with all the resources which that implies, as was later to happen. However, he correctly judged the danger posed to the masses by the attractive presentation of this simple and radical solution to the question of the working class.” (Encyclical Centesimus Annus On the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991, n. 12)
Fundamental error of socialism: A mistaken conception of the person
Continuing our reflections, ... we have to add that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. (Ibid, n. 13)
BENEDICT XVI (2005 - present):
We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything
The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person every person needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live by bread alone (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human. (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28)