In their annual Labor Day statement, the U.S. Catholic bishops call for “national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life.” Issued by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Cal., chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the statement emphasizes the reality that “Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation.”
The bishops then cite related issues in the news.
On the deficit:
“Public officials rightfully debate the need to reduce unsustainable federal deficits and debt. In the current political campaigns, we hear much about the economy, but almost nothing about the moral imperative to overcome pervasive poverty in a nation still blessed with substantial economic resources and power.”
On the continuing need for comprehensive immigration reform:
“This broken economy also contributes to the danger that workers will be exploited or mistreated in other ways. For example, many employees struggle for just wages, a safe workplace, and a voice in the economy, but they cannot purchase the goods they make, stay in the hotels they clean, or eat the food they harvest, prepare, or serve. Immigrants and their families are especially vulnerable, which highlights the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.”
On the importance of unions:
“Unions and other worker associations have a unique and essential responsibility in this needed economic renewal. Our Church has long taught that unions are ‘an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies.’ … At their best, unions demonstrate solidarity by bringing workers together to speak and act collectively to protect their rights and pursue the common good.”
On the absence of poverty from the electoral campaign:
“The relative silence of candidates and their campaigns on the moral imperative to resist and overcome poverty is both ominous and disheartening. Despite unacceptable levels of poverty, few candidates and elected officials speak about pervasive poverty or offer a path to overcome it. We need to hear from those who seek to lead this country about what specific steps they would take to lift people out of poverty.”
And, Bishop Blaire concludes:
“This Labor Day, millions of working people and their families have urgent and compelling needs. I ask you to join me in a special prayer for them and all workers, especially those without a job struggling to live in dignity. May God guide our nation in creating a more just economy that truly honors the dignity of work and the rights of workers.”
It’s a prayer we should all join.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser for Sojourners. Follow Duane on Twitter @DShankDC.
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