Catholic Framework for Economic Life
Catholic Teachings on Economic Life and Labor
- The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.
- All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family and serve the common good.
- A fundamental moral measure of any economy is how the poor and vulnerable are facing.
- All people have a right to life and to secure the basic necessities of life (e.g. food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security).
- All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions as well as to organize and join unions and other associations.
- All people, to the extent they are able, have a corresponding duty to work, a responsibility to provide for the needs of their families and an obligation to contribute to the broader society.
- In economic life, free markets have both clear advantages and limits; government has essential responsibilities and limitations; voluntary groups have irreplaceable roles, but cannot substitute for the proper working of the market and the just policies of the state.
- Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs and pursue justice in economic life.
- Workers, owners, managers, stockholders, and consumers are moral agents in economic life. By our choices, initiative, creativity and investment, we enhance or diminish economic opportunity, community life and social justice.
- The global economy has moral dimensions and human consequences. Decisions on investment, trade, aid and development should protect human life and promote human rights, especially for those most in need wherever they might live on this globe.
The American Catholic Bishops, November 1996.