Social Doctrine of the Church

Inspirer of the Partnership Contract

In order to understand the Social Doctrine of the Church, one should turn to the Encyclicals that the Popes have written during their Pontificates.
I will transcribe the paragraphs in which directly or indirectly they discuss the convenience of the Partnership Contract as a form of social justice. (The capital letters are mine.)
Source: Las Encíclicas; “8 Grandes Mensajes” [The Encyclicals, “8 Great Messages”] – Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos de la Editorial Católica, S.A., Madrid 1971.

When you study the miserable work conditions of the 19th Century up until the end of the 1914-1918 war, the condemnation coinciding between the Communist Manifest of 1848, the Rerum Novarum Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII of 1891 and the Constitution of the International Labour Organization of 1919 stand out, regarding the conditions of the workers.

The Communist Manifest states: “The situation of the modern labourer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper below the level of his own class… The bourgeoisie is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave even within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into a state of helplessness.”
The Pope writes: “Not only the hiring of labour but also the conduct of trade of all types, are concentrated in the hands of a few; to the point that a very reduced number of the opulent and rich men have imposed a yoke little better than that of slavery itself upon the teeming masses of proletarians.”
The second “Whereas” of the Preamble of the Constitution of the ILO states: “…conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation to large numbers of people…”

The ILO marks a point of inflexion in the condition of workers. Before, the labour situation of the workers was an exhausting workday and a miserable salary. Nothing more. Afterwards came rights of association and trade union freedom, limited workdays, fundamental minimum salary, social security, paid vacations, among others. These rights have been expanded, but they are reaching their upper limit without resolving unemployment, or poverty, or the children in the street, or the desperation of the so-called Third World, which fully surpasses the desperation of the workers of the 19th Century.
From the Communist Manifest arose the Soviet State with its doctrine which ended in the 20th Century itself.
From the Rerum Novarum encyclical there remains, as a pending matter, the desire of the Popes that the workers have something more than a salary for their work when in their encyclicals they refer to the rights of the workers.

The Popes

Leo XIII Rerum Novarum Encyclical 1891

«It is assumed and established as a principle, that the right of private property must be regarded as sacred. Wherefore, the law ought to favour this right and, so far as it can, see that the largest possible number among the masses of the population prefer to own property.»
«For when men know they are working on what belongs to them, they work with far greater eagerness and diligence. »

Pius XI

Quadragesimo Anno Encyclical 1931

«The riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and classes that the common advantage of all will be safeguarded; in other words, that the common good of all society will be kept inviolate.
By this law of social justice, one class is forbidden to exclude the other from sharing in the benefits.»
«We consider it more advisable, however, in the present condition of human society that, so far as is possible, the WORK-CONTRACT be somewhat modified by a PARTNERSHIP-CONTRACT, as is already being done in various ways and with no small advantage to workers and owners. Workers and other employees thus become sharers in ownership or management or participate in some fashion in the profits received. »

Pius XII Radio message 1944

«Small and medium property in agriculture, in craft trades, in commerce and in industry should protect and foster itself; the cooperative unions must ensure the advantages of the large company to these forms of property; and as regards the large companies, they must make certain that the WORK CONTRACT is softened with some ELEMENTS OF THE PARTNERSHIP CONTRACT.»

Juan XXIII Mater et Magistra Encyclical 1961

«Experience suggests many ways in which the demands of justice (social justice) can be satisfied. One of them, and the most desirable today, consists of WORKERS gradually coming to SHARE IN THE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR COMPANY, by ways and in the manner that seem most suitable. For today, even more than in the time of Our Predecessor, every effort must be made that at least in future a just share only of the wealth be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy, and that an ample sufficiency be supplied also to the workers.»

Paul VI Populorum Progressio Encyclical 1967

«The right to private property – says the Pope - is not absolute and unconditional. No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life.»
«We want to be clearly understood on this point: The present state of affairs must be confronted boldly, and its concomitant injustices must be challenged and overcome. Continuing DEVELOPMENT CALLS FOR BOLD INNOVATIONS that will work profound changes. Everyone must lend a ready hand to this task, particularly those who can do most by reason of their education, their office, or their authority.»

John Paul II Laborem exencens Encyclical 1981 Ediciones Paulinas, Madrid

«It is right to confirm all the effort with which the Church’s teaching has striven and continues to strive always to ensure the priority of work and, thereby, man’s character as a subject in social life and, especially, in the dynamic structure of the whole economic process. From this point of view the position of “rigid” capitalism continues to remain UNACCEPTABLE, namely the position that defends THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO private OWNERSHIP OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION as an untouchable “dogma” of economic life. The principle of respect for work demands that this right should undergo a constructive revision, both in theory and in practice. If it is true that capital, as the whole of the means of production, is at the same time the product of the work of generations, it is equally true that capital is being unceasingly created through the work done with the help of all these means of production, and these means can be seen as a great workbench at which the present generation of workers is working day after day.» «In the light of the above, the many proposals put forward by experts in Catholic social teaching and by the highest Magisterium of the Church take on special significance. They are proposals for joint ownership of the means of work, sharing by the workers in the management and/or profits of business, so-called shareholding by labour, etc. Whether these various proposals can or cannot be applied concretely, it is clear that recognition of the proper position of labour and the worker in the production process demands various adaptations in the sphere of the right to ownership of the means of production.»

«When man works, using all the means of production, he also wishes the fruit of this work to be used by himself and others, and he wishes to be able to take part in the very work process as a sharer in responsibility and creativity at the workbench to which he applies himself.»

«But here it must be emphasized, in general terms, that THE PERSON WHO WORKS DESIRES not only due remuneration for his work; he also wishes that, within the production process, provision be made for him to be able to know that in his work, even on something that is owned in common, HE IS WORKING “FOR HIMSELF.”»
Laborem exercens, Ediciones Paulinas, Madrid 1981

In the words of Pope Leo XIII «For when men know they are working on what belongs to them, they work with far greater eagerness and diligence.», there underlies the idea of the Partnership Contract, cited expressly by successive Popes in order to be able to convert it in a generalized option.

The consequence of this allusion reiterated by the Church in favour of the Partnership Contract is THE THIRD WAY, which defines the contract, details its alternatives, plans its organization and with the support of the “globalizehousing” Project, creates an autonomous financial system for its overall development.
An autonomous financial system to develop the Partnership Contract has been demanded by the Church since 1891. Therefore, the element that was lacking is available: the financing of the ecclesial desire, shown in the course of a century, so that the workers may have something more than a simple salary. All that remains is for this desire to be transformed in an unrenounceable and committed determination to promote in true form the access of the workers to ownership of the means of production.
The time for waiting is over. The Church called for social justice that always depended on the will of the political leaders of the moment, incapable of understanding what the Partnership Contract suggested by the Popes in favour of the workers. Now there exists a “globalizehousing” Project that cannot be ignored because it is the starting point to generate sufficient resources to finance the workers and begin a new form of labour relations.

My desire is that the response is not long in coming while the PARTNERSHIP CONTRACT is examined minutely in its principal components: general principles, economic fundamentals, prototypes of unions of labour-capital, form of participation of the workers and the protagonism of the syndicates in their tutelage.

The next Editorial March 10, 2002

The Four Pillars of THE THIRD WAY

Francisco Montaner

Globalizing housing with zero cost