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Bishop Blaire Reflects On the Human Costs And Moral Challenges Of A Broken Economy In U.S. Bishops’ Labor Day Statement

 
August 24, 2011

 WASHINGTON—“This Labor Day, the economic facts are stark and the human costs are real: millions of our sisters and brothers are without work, raising children in poverty and haunted by fears about their economic security,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California in “Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy,” the annual Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He added, “These are not just economic problems, but also human tragedies, moral challenges, and tests of our faith.”

Bishop Blaire, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said this Labor Day comes at a time when nine percent of Americans are looking for work and cannot find it, while others live in fear of losing their jobs. He cited Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical Rerum Novarum as the inspiration for this year’s statement, and added, “We need to look beyond the economic indicators, stock market gyrations, and political conflicts and focus on the often invisible burdens of ordinary workers and their families, many of whom are hurting, discouraged, and left behind by this economy.” He further stated, “An economy that cannot provide employment, decent wages and benefits, and a sense of participation and ownership for its workers is broken in fundamental ways.”

Bishop Blaire also emphasized the Church’s tradition of supporting the rights of workers to organize to protect their dignity and the dignity of work. “The Church’s relationship with the labor movement is both supportive and challenging. Our Church continues to teach that unions remain an effective instrument to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers…Workers and their unions, as well as employers and their businesses, all have responsibility to seek the common good, not just their own economic, political, or institutional interests.”

Bishop Blaire concluded by outlining a Catholic response to the economy and joblessness, stating, “We are called to renew our commitment to the God-given task of defending human life and dignity, celebrating work, and defending workers with both hope and conviction. This is a time for prayer, reflection, and action.”

The annual statement offers Catholics an opportunity to reflect on the state of unemployment and the American economy, and how Catholic teaching can guide a response. The full text of the Labor Day statement can be found online in English and in Spanish.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Bishops, Domestic Social Development, Labor Day, dignity of workers, Rerum Novarum, encyclical, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, labor, economic crisis, national debt, unemployment




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