USCCB News Release
August 18, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Labor Day Message Calls For Action On Just Economy, Dignity, Workers' Rights
WASHINGTON – An American Catholic Tradition, the U.S. bishops’ 2008 Labor Day statement calls for "renewed vigor as we seek to build together a society that cares for its own, reaches out to the poor and vulnerable, and offers true hope to all."
Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the statement to highlight the needs of the nation’s workers, economic inequalities and the responsibilities of all citizens to help improve working conditions.
He drew inspiration from the late Monsignor George Higgins, the "labor priest" who worked for fifty-plus years for workers’ rights and was an outspoken bridge between the Catholic Church in the United States and the labor movement. He described how Monsignor Higgins might address current economic stresses.
"Above all, Monsignor Higgins would be concerned about the worker, the person, and the family whose lives are affected by a host of factors," Bishop Murphy said. "He would weigh up and measure all those factors by their overall impact on human beings. Monsignor would have pointed out the lack of union representation in so many of the emerging industries and workplaces where exploitation has been most evident."
The Church, Bishop Murphy said, continues to focus on the dignity of the worker as "the cornerstone of Catholic teaching on economic life." The "challenge of overcoming poverty brings the Catholic community together," he said.
Given the coming national elections, the Labor Day statement reminds Catholics to use Catholic social and moral teaching to assess issues of economic justice, human life and dignity. Bishop Murphy cited the bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, a document updated every four years, in stressing the need to form a correct conscience in decision-making, based not on personal feelings or individual popularity, but on the truth of the human person and human society. Bishop Murphy said this is determined by examining "candidates and issues from the perspective of human life and dignity, the true good of society, the common good of us all in our nation and in this world."The Labor Day statement highlights Faithful Citizenship’s words on economic justice, work and workers’ rights. It outlines what comprises a just economy and "makes both links and distinctions between the fundamental duty to oppose what is intrinsically evil (i.e., the destruction of unborn life) and the obligation to pursue the common good (i.e., defending rights of workers and pursuing greater economic justice)," Bishop Murphy said.