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Warwick Professor Presents Work to the Pope

Professor Margaret Archer
Professor Margaret Archer
with Pope John Paul II
Originally published 17 June 2003

On 2 May Pope John Paul II was presented with a copy of Work and Human Fulfillment by Professor Margaret Archer of the Department of Sociology. The Pope showed his obvious pleasure at receiving the first fruits of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which he founded personally in 1994.

Margaret Archer explained to CommUnicate that:
“The object of the Academy is to offer the Church 'the elements which she can use in the study and development of her social doctrine'. This sounds dull and worthy; it is neither.

“Catholic social teaching has been called the best-kept secret of the Church. This is particularly regrettable, now that the Catholic Church is one of the few global voices to uphold the 'primacy of labour over capital'. Rapid transformations in the world economy mean that growth productivity and profitability are no longer closely associated with increases in employment. This raises pressing questions. What is clear is that the 'neo-liberal consensus' does not even endorse full employment as a desirable goal, let alone deliver it.

“Nearly everywhere, the 'right to work' (which features in the 1948 UN Charter on Human Rights) is challenged by the growth in unemployment. In turn, the concentration of joblessness among the young and unskilled, and those in the Third World threatens the linkages that the Church has constantly stressed - between employment and human dignity and work and human fulfilment.

"In Work and Human Fulfillment members of the Pontifical Academy and their colleagues explore these recent changes in the world of work and innovative proposals to bring about work for all."