.- The U.S. Catholic bishops have issued their 2008 Labor Day statement in which they address Catholic social teaching and defend workersâ rights, calling for ârenewed 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.â According to the bishops, the more we share and exercise self-control over our possession and use of earthly goods, the less need we have for regulatory laws required when âeconomic privateers and profit seeking piratesâ take over whole areas of the economy.
Noting that the United States is blessed with freedom, energy, and creative initiative, the statement reminds Catholics that such blessings must be tempered by âa deep sense of responsibility for one another, for our planet, and for the future.â
The statement was issued by William Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishopsâ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
In the statement Bishop Murphy describes his inspiration, the late âlabor priestâ Monsignor George Higgins. Monsignor Higgins worked for workersâ rights for more than fifty years.
Bishop Murphy said Monsignor Higgins would be concerned about âthe worker, the person, and the family whose lives are affected by a host of factors.â In the bishopâs view, were he alive today the monsignor would weigh all those factors by their overall impact on human beings and would point out the lack of union representation in emerging industries and workplaces âwhere exploitation has been most evident.â
The monsignor would also urge that Catholic social teaching still offers âone of the best ways to assess whether the human person is the center of economic life or whether workers who are poor and marginalized are forgotten.â
The Church, Bishop Murphy explains, continues to focus on the worker as âcornerstone of Catholic teaching on economic lifeâ adding that the Catholic community is brought together by âthe challenge of overcoming poverty.â
He further writes that the ethical principles of subsidiarity and solidarity are particularly relevant to the question of globalization. When joined together, the opportunity to be creative and productive becomes harnessed to the âmakers of a vibrant economy.â
âThis links their work into a set of relationships bringing new opportunities to one another across political and social divisions and especially across the great divide between rich and poor,â the statement says. âLet interdependence become the âsolidarityâ of neighbor to neighbor in such a way that the subsidiarity of free creativity builds up and offers new possibilities for all neighbors, especially the poor and the vulnerable.â
The Labor Day statement also cites the bishopsâ document âForming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,â stressing the need for one to form oneâs conscience rightly by basing it not on personal feelings or popularity but on the truth of the human person and human society. Candidates and issues, it says, must be examined âfrom 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.â
The Labor Day statement particularly focuses on the âFaithful Citizenshipâ documentâs sections on economic justice, labor, and workersâ rights.
âNever forget that human life is the supreme good in this world,â Bishop Murphy closes. âNever forget that human dignity is not an expendable commodity but belongs to everyone without exception. Every day we are pro-life. Every day we are champions of human dignity. Our voices and our votes should shape society by bringing these inalienable truths into every particular proposal and program, every particular candidateâs projects and plans.â