[On the respective roles of Church and State in the lives of citizens]

Catholic Social Teaching
[26]The Church’s role is not merely to teach what is right, but to influence the hearts and minds of men so that they willingly act according to their duty, control their passions and appetites, love God and their fellow man, and cultivate virtue. [27] History shows many examples of civil society being revived and restored by Christian institutions, restoring all things in Christ. If society today is to be healed, this can happen only by a return to Christian life and the principles upon which it was built. [28] The Church is not so preoccupied with men’s spiritual well-being that she has no concern for his material good; on the contrary, she deeply desires that the poor may better themselves and, by urging Christian morality, she helps men avoid the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure, resulting in social equity and temporal prosperity that are pleasing to God. [29] The Church does not merely teach virtue, but also acts directly to alleviate the suffering of the poor, which even her enemies have praised throughout her history. [30] Yet now there are those who blame, rather than praise, the Church for her care of the poor and the suffering, claiming that this is not the Church’s job, but the job of the State. But the State will never display the heroic devotion and self-sacrifice of Christian charity, a virtue which can be nurtured only in the Church and drawn from the Sacred Hear of Jesus Christ.

[31] Nonetheless, the agencies of the Church and those of civil society should be united in their common concern, so that the greatest good can be achieved. Therefore we should consider what role the State can justly play in providing relief. [32] The State, properly speaking, refers not to any particular form of government but to any government conformable to right reason, natural law, and the dictates of Divine law, as set out in the encyclical On the Christian Constitution of the State [see also Catholic Encyclopedia online]. Its chief duty is to make sure that its laws and institutions promote and protect public well-being and private prosperity; this being so, it should promote everything that makes its citizens better and happier, including public morality, well-ordered family life, respect for religion and justice, moderate taxation, productive use of land, etc. If these things are seen to, there will be fewer poor and less need for public relief.

[33] The State should recognize that all parts of society must be well regulated and well served, and therefore should not favor the rich over the poor, but provide distributive justice toward each and every social class alike. [34] Although it is right to honor those who directly serve the State, public servants engaged in legislation and administration of the government, nonetheless it must be recognized that the commonwealth could not prosper without the contributions of the laboring class, through whose efforts the State prospers. Therefore, whatever promotes the welfare of workers is good for the society as a whole, and should be favored.

[35] While, as we have said, the State must not absorb the individual or the family, nonetheless it should show a paternal interest in the well-being of its individual members, just as it should safeguard the commonwealth as a whole. [36] Since the State’s responsibility is to secure the public good, it may intervene in public or private affairs when that general good is threatened by circumstances or events; for instance, when workers are not afforded time to carry out familial or religious duties, or if they are required to work in unhealthy or immoral conditions, or if a threatened labor strike would endanger the public peace. In such cases, the law may intervene, provided that it do no more than required to remedy the situation.

[37] While all legitimate human rights must be protected by law, the poor and the needy should be especially protected, since they have no resources to fall back on as the rich do, aside from the State’s assistance. [38]  Nonetheless, the right to private property must be protected by law, nor should private property be seized and redistributed under pretext of justice. [39] The State should ensure humane working conditions and reasonable pay, in order to forestall workers’ strikes, because the disruptions caused by strikes are injurious to the public peace.

closed Sunday for family and worship
[40] The State should also protect the working man’s spiritual good, for his duty to God is sacred. To interfere with a man’s duty toward God is to violate God’s rights, not just man’s. [41] Therefore, Sundays and holy days should be days of rest, which allow man to turn his attention from mundane concerns to the worship he owes to God.

[42] The human condition of workers should be respected, in such a way that they are not used simply as tools to create profit for their greedy employers. Therefore, the hours and conditions of work should not be so taxing as to work men beyond their endurance, nor should women and children be required to work as long or as hard as grown men, and all workers should be given enough time off to recuperate from their labors. Even if workers and employers should agree on conditions that would make no allowance for man’s duty to God and himself, doing so would be wrong.