Work is much more than employment, say Catholic bishops

2 Jun 2010 | JUSTICE

This week Catholics will receive a pastoral letter called ‘Working for Life’ from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC).

The bishops suggest ways that people can overcome and learn from the economic recession, and look at the Catholic concept of work in the contexts of redundancies and the effects of economic instability on the good of people.

“Work is most often identified with employment, but it is much more than that. Work has a dignity of its own in that it expresses the self-worth of a person, something that can never be reduced to an economic value,” say the bishops.

They emphasise that there will always be people who cannot work or support themselves, and that it is important for workers to look after these people as if they were their brothers or sisters.

They suggest that the country’s leaders do the same and cease referring to beneficiaries as “clients” or “customers” and the assistance they receive as “products”.

“In hospitals, patients can be referred to as “units” or even as “beds”. This is the language of business,” the bishops say. “When these “clients” and “units” are identified as sisters and brothers - part of my family - everything changes”.

“We hope this letter will reaffirm the priority of work over employment and of men and women over work”.
The bishops also encourage Catholics to question their consumer lifestyles, the effects of their purchases on those in the production line and the impact of their waste on the environment.

‘Working for Life’ is available from the bishops statements section of this site.