Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Labor Day resources

The Catholic Church has been speaking out strongly on the rights of workers since at least 1891, when Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, "On the Condition of Labor."

Here are some of the main points, according to The Busy Christian’s Guide to Catholic Social Teaching, on the website of U.S. Catholic magazine [you should bookmark this page]:
Promotion of human dignity through just distribution of wealth. Present inequality creates a decline of morality as shown in alcohol consumption, prostitution, and divorce. Workers have basic human rights that adhere to Natural Law, which says all humans are equal. Rights include the right to work, to own private property, to receive a just wage, and to organize into workers' associations. Employers and employees each have rights and responsibilities: while the worker should not riot to create a situation of conflict with the employer, the employer should maintain an environment respecting worker's dignity.
The Church’s support of labor continues to this day, with the release of the latest Labor Day statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was written by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. The Archbishop writes:
We share one common home as part of a larger, single family, so the dignity of workers, the stability of families, and the health of communities are all intertwined. The path to a renewed society is built on authentic solidarity and rooted in faith. It rejects the individualism and materialism that make us indifferent to suffering and closed to the possibility of encounter.
He goes on to write about personal conversion, a living wage, the struggles of families, the importance of work, and other issues.

This statement would make a good bulletin insert for the weekend of September 5 and 6.

The USCCB also offers a pastoral aid with comments on the readings for the day, points for theological reflection from the statement, suggestions for parish activities, and prayers for the faithful, among other topics.

An archive of past Labor Day statements, going back almost 30 years, is available here.

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