Pope John Paul II's papal encyclical On human labor, Solidarity's blueprint.


Edwin Arenas

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters


Throughout the history of humanity the great writings of great leaders have led to great causes for the benefit of humanity. In 1983 Pope John II wrote his third and most influential papal encyclical, On Human Labor (Laborem Exercen) which contains the Christian virtue solidarity which became the blueprint for the anti-communist labor union co-founded by His Holiness and devoted Polish Roman Catholic, Solidarity leader, and electrician Lech Walesa. Solidarity's ten million members struck against the Polish Communist Government successfully winning support from the international community. Their non-violent approach in fighting communism paid off when they finally defeated the Soviet-backed regime in Poland in a 1989 election. Pope John Paul II's On Human Labor provided an intellectual framework for Solidarity which was a mass yet vague movement. Scholarly research has demonstrated that there is a direct connection between the Holy Bible, On Human Labor, and solidarity. Modern Roman Catholic liberal academic scholars Rocco Buttiglione and Taduez Maowiecki as well as modern Roman Catholic conservative academic scholars Czeslaw Mikosz and Jozef Tischner have credited Pope John Paul II with bringing down communism in Poland and Eastern Europe by being the spiritual inspiration behind its downfall and a catalyst for a "peaceful resolution" in Poland through his papal encyclical On Human Labor. Lech Walesa credited His Holiness with giving Poles the courage to rise up. According to Walesa: "Before his pontificate, the world was divided into blocs. Nobody knew how to get rid of communism. In Warsaw, Poland in 1979, he simply said: 'Do not be afraid' and later prayed: 'Let your Spirit descend and change the image of the land...this land'" (Walesa, The Road to Hope, 100). On Human Labor confronts communism directly and challenges its role in the modern world. It questions its existence and stresses its need to conform to a higher standard of values based upon the spiritual teachings of the word of God contained in the Holy Bible. The Roman Catholic Church's first and only Polish Pope was more zealous in His crusade against communism than any other Pontiff in the Church's rich and long history.