(CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Father J. Cletus Kiley, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, is pictured in the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington July 5.
August 22nd, 2012
By George Raine
It’s going to come as a surprise to some – but certainly not to those who know Catholic social justice teaching – that the church long ago sided with labor.
In the 1891 encyclical “Rerum Novarum,” or “On the New Things,” Pope Leo XIII supported the rights of labor to form unions, and called for ameliorating “the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.”
In 1919, the U.S. Catholic bishops offered President Woodrow Wilson their ideas about re-ordering American society following the Great War. It was called the Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction and one of its themes was support for labor, while, at the same time, it became a blueprint for the New Deal and also later would influence federal labor law and worker protection. Read more