.- Writing in their Labor Day Statement, the U.S. bishops have highlighted the dignity of work and âthe contributions and rightsâ of the American worker, the importance of health care reform, and recent collaboration between the Catholic Church, unions, and health care workers.
The statement, dated September 7, was written by Bishop of Rockville Centre William F. Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The statement, titled âThe Value of Work; the Dignity of the Human Person,â also discussed portions of Pope Benedict XVIâs latest encyclical.
Bishop Murphy observed that despite today's economic challenges, the American people remain âfundamentallyâ optimistic.
âWe have an abiding faith in the values that have shaped our nation and an ongoing commitment to work together to address the problems and build on the strengths of who we are,â his statement read, describing this attitude as a mirror of the Christian virtue of hope.
Quoting Pope Benedictâs encyclical Caritas In Veritate, the statement said that the human person in his or her integrity is the âprimary capitalâ and that decent work âexpresses the essential dignity of every man and woman.â
âPope Benedict renews and reminds us of the Churchâs classic support for the right of workers to choose freely to form or join a union or other types of workersâ associations,â Bishop Murphy wrote. âPope Benedict endorses this and adds to it the responsibility of workers and unions âto be open to the new perspectives that are emerging in the world of work.ââ
The Labor Day statement also discussed the successful conclusion of negotiations between the the Catholic Health Association (CHA), the AFL/CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). According to the bishop, a âlong, candid and constructiveâ dialogue led to a âsignificant consensus statementâ on how workers in Catholic health care facilities can choose whether or not to be represented by a union.
The document âRespecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unionsâ was a product of the negotiations. Bishop Murphy specifically thanked those involved in its creation.
The bishop also noted that one in six Americans receives care at one of more than 600 Catholic hospitals or 1,200 other Catholic health care ministries.
On the topic of health care reform, the Labor Day statement called health care an âessential goodâ for every person.
âIn a society like ours, no one should lack access to decent health care,â Bishop Murphy said, calling on Catholics to advocate for âtruly universalâ health care reform that protects both human life at âevery stage of developmentâ and the consciences of pro-life health care workers.
The statement also mentioned immigration reform, calling for respect for both legal and illegal immigrants and condemning the denial of health care services to them.
âAs we seek to rebuild our economy, produce a better health care system, and improve the immigration system, we are presented with unique opportunities to advance the common good,â Bishop Murphyâs letter concluded. âOn this Labor Day, let us remember those without work and without hope.â
âMay God bless you this Labor Day and may God watch over and bless those who are committed to the care and protection of all the members of our nation who share the American dream of âliberty and justice for all.'â