- Select an issue relevant to moral theology and social justice. Examples include human trafficking, sweatshops, life issues, sexuality and marriage issues, care for the environment, worker’s rights, etc.
- Find a recent news article related to your issue. The article can come from any news outlet except satirical sources. The article must have been written within the past 6 months.
- Select 2 topics from our discussion on morality, and take notes on the relationship between those topics and your article. You can select your 2 topics from the following:
- Natural Law
- Intention, means, and circumstances
- Covenant, prophecy, and discipleship
- Magisterium and sensus fidelium
- Select 2 principles of Catholic Social Teaching from our discussion on social justice, and take notes on the relationship between those principles and your article. You can find the principles of CST discussed in your textbook and listed on the second-to-last slide of the Social Justice PowerPoint.
Morality and Social Justice
The contractors in charge constructing the infrastructure in readiness for the 2018 World Cup in Qatar have been accused of violating the rights of workers. In particular, the process of building and maintaining stadia has been marred by reports indicating that the rights of foreign workers are being mistreated by the managers of the construction sites. In a report detailing the violation of the rights of the workers, Amnesty International has given accounts of interviewees whose passports have been confiscated, payments withheld, forced to pay unjust recruitment fees, and being forced to stay in dilapidated shelters. As a result, many of the foreign workers state that their stay in Qatar is akin to slavery or being held hostage because their employers deny them to make any exit by taking away their passports and other travel documents. Although the Qatar government has adamantly denied the allegations, evidence points out to blatant mistreatment of the workers.
To assess the morality of the situation in Qatar, the theologian has to engage various theological principles. This paper uses the theological concepts of Intention, means and circumstances, and conscience to analyze the morality of the treatment of workers in Qatar. According to theological teachings, an individual may be following a wrong moral practice frequently for so long such that, according to their conscience, their actions are right. Saul’s life before conversion exemplifies continued practice of morally wrong actions to a point one believes their actions are right.
The treatment of foreign workers in Qatar as the preparations for the World Cup continue suggests that the contractors and the managers do not have a conscience strong enough for them to change their actions for better. The individuals seem to have the conviction that their actions are just and the workers deserve the treatment they get. However, this does not justify their actions because the government of Qatar has put in place laws that prohibit these actions. The laws as well as the outcry of the workers and the international community are sufficient to communicate to their conscience that what they are doing is immoral. In addition, the employers make deliberate efforts to evade the system and lure the workers into going into the country. According the report by Amnesty International, a majority of the workers were deceived into Qatar by promise of low recruitment fees and high wages. These promises were often retracted soon after they migrated and started working for the contractors.
According to the theological concept of intention, means, and circumstances also proves that the actions of the actions of the employers in Qatar are immoral. The international labor laws as well as the laws of Qatar stipulate that it is criminal for employers to treat their workers as the Qatar contractors are treating their workers. The labor laws of Qatar, for instance, dictate that it is a criminal offence for employers withhold their workers’ pay or passports, or to promise a given amount as payment and then pay less once the person has been hired. Therefore, an assessment of the action itself shows that it is immoral.
Wrong actions may be slightly justified if they were carried out for the right reasons. For example, killing a person is a wrong action but may be justified if done in self-defense. In the case of the Qatar employers, their actions are borne out of bad intentions and thus their actions are immoral. Also, their circumstances do not leave them without options. The actions of the employers are out of their own will and desire to exploit their workers for financial gains. This further confirms their actions as immoral.
The Catholic Social Teachings are designed towards authentic and holistic development of the human race. To achieve this goal, the Catholic Social Teachings are anchored on various principles that recognize human dignity as the central feature. Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers is one of the major principles on which the teachings are bases. The principle recognizes that modern businesses and the workplace are focused on making maximum profits. To make maximize the profits, the businesses have to minimize their expenditure. There is therefore a high temptation to exploit the workers by not offering paying them meager salaries and going for cheap options when taking setting up the working conditions of the workers. The Catholic teachings, however, advise that the employers need to look beyond their desire to make money and treat their workers with dignity and observe their constitutional rights.
The employers of the foreign workers building and refurbishing the infrastructure in Qatar are clearly going against this principle. The Amnesty International reports stated that many of the foreign workers complained of the working conditions and shelters that they were offered by the contactors. The employers also violate the worker’s rights to earn wages when they withhold their salaries. By confiscating the workers’ travel documents, the employees also take away their right to decide as humans. This keeps the workers in a state that is akin to slavery and is devoid of human dignity. The Catholic teachings counsel that for the dignity work to be upheld, the basic rights of the employees, both as workers and human beings, must be respected. This includes the right to decent wages, to organize and join unions, and the right to own private property. All these aspects of the teachings have been violated in the conditions that the workers in Qatar are being subjected to by their employers.
The Catholic teachings also instruct us to give preferential care to the weak and vulnerable. Catholic as an institution proclaims that the conditions that the weak and vulnerable people live in are a basic moral test for that particular society. As individuals, the manner in which we treat the poor also speaks a lot about our morality. Therefore, for anyone to use their economic might or power to oppress the poor is immoral as per the teaching of the Catholic Church.
In the workplace, the workers are relatively weaker and vulnerable compared to the employers. As such, a morally straight employer will treat his or her workers with compassion and kindness. In the Qatar situation, the employers do not just neglect the vulnerable workers but also oppress them. In fact, the recruitment agencies and some of the employers ensure that the immigrants are even more vulnerable by taking away their travel documents and their well deserved wages. As per the Catholic teachings, the acts of the employers are immoral as individuals because the poor are neglected. In addition, the mistreatment of the immigrants paints the Qatar community as a whole as being immoral.
The alleged mistreatment of workers in the Qatari republic is immoral on all fronts. This is made worse by the fact that there have already been outcries by the international communities and the workers but the contractors keep denying. The government also seems to be reluctant in tackling the problem because after putting the laws in place, it did not follow up to ensure they were adhered to. The immorality of the employers is also brought out in the efforts they make to execute their schemes. For instance, they use several subcontractors to make it hard for authorities to hold anyone accountable incase their actions are unearthed.