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Book examines church influence on movement for labour rights
Paul Beckett's book examines church influence on movement for labour rights

08 Apr 2021 / justice Print

Book examines church influence on labour rights

Labour Rights and the Catholic Church will be published by Routledge on 13 April. The book promises to break new ground on labour rights. The book’s sub-title is ‘The International Labour Organisation, the Holy See and Catholic Social Teaching’.

Writer Paul Beckett is a non-practising Irish solicitor, admitted in 1998, and an international human-rights specialist.


The book explores the cross-influence between Catholic social teaching and the work of the world’s oldest human-rights institution, the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Practitioner-academic Beckett has received an imprimatur (or ecclesiastic approval) from the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon.

The book shows how the principles of workers’ rights in Catholic social teaching played a seminal role as a moral force in the formation and development of the International Labour Organisation.

It examines the attraction between the ILO – a secular organisation born of the political desire for peace and justice in 1919, and the Catholic Church.

COVID-19 impact

Written during the COVID-19 crisis, the book tackles the disproportionate number of dead among the poor, and imposition of unreasonable working demands as a result of the virus.

Beckett notes that, in financial terms, it is becoming apparent that only the fittest may survive, despite global instances of self-sacrifice and common accord.

He draws comparisons with 1919, the year in which the ILO was founded, when countries were weakened by war, wracked with Spanish Flu, and ruined financially.

He quotes Pope Leo XIII: “It is not rash to conjecture the future from the past. Age gives way to age, but the events of one century are wonderfully like those of another.” (Rerum Novarum, section 59.) 

Provoke and console

Paul Beckett comments: “Researching and writing the book has been a difficult ‘row to hoe’, turning over land left fallow for the best part of a century. My wish for its readers is that it will provoke and console in equal measure.”

Labour Rights and the Catholic Church is intended to appeal to lay people, professionals and academics working in the areas of international human rights, theology, comparative philosophy, history, and social and political studies.

The book has been taken up by the newly-formed Council for Inclusive Capitalism in the Vatican, formed in December 2020 as the brainchild of Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

The publication is listed widely by booksellers.

Gazette Desk
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