One of the themes of Catholic Social Teachings is the recognition of the dignity of work and the defense of the rights of workers. These two components of the teaching are grounded in the belief that we are all made in God’s image and likeness, and as such are invited to participate in developing and supporting life. Labor from this perspective is not seen as a punishment, but as an opportunity to be co-creators with God. Due to this, all social and economic structures are to be respectful of, support and not impede individuals from exercising their ability to work, to contribute to the common good, and to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops summarize this teaching: “The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.”
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