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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

LABOR OF LOVE, LOVE OF LABOR

It may surprise people that the religious tradition from which I come
has had a very strong and dynamic role in public discourse regarding
labor, unions and employers. Since Pope Leo Xlll in 1891 to the
present, both the popes and the bishops of America have written
extensively and have been active in promoting the right to organize
and the dignity of labor.

From the beginning this has been considered a top moral and social
issue which the church has believed to be a moral imperative to
defend. It has been argued for over a hundred years that the church
should stay clear of politics. However time and time again it asserts
its moral obligation to speak.

This year's Labor Day Statement from the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops is written by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.
Quoting Ps. 90:1 "In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge" he
then opens his address with these words: "This Labor Day, we draw our
attention to our sisters and brothers who face twin crises—deep trials
in both the world of work and the state of the family. These
challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers
that come with it. Into this reality, the Church shares a word of
hope, directing hearts and minds to the dignity of each human person
and the sanctity of work itself, which is given by God. She seeks to
replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true
solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows
what we need before we ask him (Mt. 6:8)."

What is common to all the encyclicals or letters from the Popes since
Leo Xlll to Pope Francis are the themes of the sanctity of work and
its relationship to the dignity of the human person. In close
association is the condemnation of greed which undermines justice.
Unbridled greed leads to massive economic disparity which in turn
leads to violence, civil unrest and even war.

The Catholic Church is not alone of course. The Episcopal Church
includes Labor Day in its liturgical calendar. Lutheran Churches have
taken a stand along with the Methodist Church who have proclaimed a
Social Creed. Judaism since 1934 became very active in labor issues
with the Jewish Labor Committee.

One can even find in Islam strong support of labor. "For one thing,
Islam sees the relationship between employers and employees as a
"brotherhood." It is not a paternalistic relationship nor a
patron-client relationship, but one of equals where each has
responsibilities to the other. The Prophet Muhammad reportedly said:
'Your employees are your brothers upon whom Allah has given you
authority, so if a Muslim has another person under his control, he/she
should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with
the like of what one wears and you should not overburden them with
what they cannot bear and if you do so, help them in their jobs'. In
return, employees must provide employers with hard work, diligence,
and honesty." http://insideislam.wisc.edu/2012/07/islam-and-labor/

It may not be popular in a state such as Arizona with its "right to
work" laws, but there is a moral imperative to support labor unions.
After all, even the Catholic institutions of education and health care
are challenged by these documents to "walk the talk".

Bottom line, give thanks to God and the hard work and sacrifices of
those who have paid the price and who still struggle to combat greed.
It is through continued efforts union activists to preserve the
dignity of those who are fortunate to have a job today. Thanks as well
to those employers who not only provide jobs but treat their employees
with respect and as equals seeking the common good. Thus Labor Day
remains a challenge but also is a day of thanksgiving.

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