What can the church do for worker justice in America?

What can the church do for worker justice in America?

U.S. employers routinely violate the seventh commandment when they refuse to pay their workers their legally mandated wages.

Growing up in what she describes as a “pretty conservative church background” in Ohio, Kim Bobo excelled at memorizing her Bible verses. “I won all the contests,” she remembers. “It has served me well in my life. You can’t really know the scriptures and not realize their core commitment to caring for our neighbor. My life has been about trying to figure out how I play a role in helping people and how I can do that in the most effective way possible.”

Throughout her career, which has included stints as an organizer for Bread for the World, as the “church lady” in a training center for organizers, and as the founder and director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), Bobo has consistently worked to energize faith communities in the pursuit of social justice.

She first got pulled into her current focus on workers’ rights when she helped organize religious support for the 1989-90 Pittston Coal miners’ strike. That experience planted the seed that eventually—with the help of Chicago’s legendary Msgr. Jack Egan—led to the founding of IWJ. Read more

Pope Francis reflects on the dignity of work at Wednesday’s general audience

Vatican Radio

Pope Francis reflects on the dignity of work at Wednesday’s general audience



Pope Francis in his catechesis on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st reflected on two important figures in the life of Jesus: the figure of St. Joseph as the model of all workers and on Mary as we mark the beginning of the month dedicated to the mother of Jesus. Pope FRancis in comments in Italian spoke about the dignity and importance of work.

Listen to Emer McCarthy’s report including Wednesday morning’s mass

Below a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s Wednesday Audience catechesis:

Dear brothers and sisters, Good Day!,

Today, May 1st, we celebrate Saint Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally dedicated to Our Lady. In our encounter this morning, I want to focus on these two figures, so important in the life of Jesus, the Church and in our lives, with two brief thoughts: the first on work, the second on the contemplation of Jesus Read more

For Catholics, a new kind of pro-creation

Guest Voices

For Catholics, a new kind of pro-creation


By Christiana Z. Peppard, Published: March 26

Strap on your sandals, Catholics, during this Holy Week journey into Jerusalem. Pope Francis is guiding the global church towards two major right-to-life issues: poverty and the environment. Take heed: it’s not just about prophylaxis.

First, poverty. Francis has called for a “poor church, a church for the poor.” Certainly, the Bible is rife with injunctions to care for the poor, and Catholic social teaching insists on the theological and ethical imperative known as the “preferential option for the poor.” But has any pope ever talked the talk while walking the walk? Enter Francis, who has decided to not live in the papal apartment (he will live in the Vatican guesthouse), who has eschewed highly filigreed garments, and who has constantly spoken of humility and poverty. Might this papacy be less about pontifical pomp and theological rhetoric than about attention to concrete circumstance? That would be theology as praxis: where the word of God hits the ground, and keeps walking. Read more

Why Immigration Is a Top Priority for US Labor

HomeWhy Immigration Is a Top Priority for US Labor

Submitted by Sarah on Wed, 03/06/2013 – 2:54pm.
Maria Elena Durazo speaks during the Action Summit on Worker Safety and Health at East Los Angeles College, April 26, 2012. (Photo: Susan Goldman / US Department of Labor)
Maria Elena Durazo speaks during the Action Summit on Worker Safety and Health at East Los Angeles College, April 26, 2012. (Photo: Susan Goldman / US Department of Labor)

Monday, 04 March 2013

By Amy DeanTruthout | Interview

Immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights. These days, that idea is a principle held dear by the US labor movement. But that wasn’t always the case.

As recently as the mid-1990s, many unions took protectionist stances against allowing new immigrants to come to this country. It was only after these unions saw the abuses that became prevalent under an employer-driven system for verifying immigration status that the labor movement embraced a new position. The movement recognized that for working people to thrive, all employees had to have full rights in the workplace. Read more

Is capitalism moral?

Is capitalism moral?

By , Published: March 15

Steven Pearlstein is a Washington Post business and economics columnist and a professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University.

Careening from debt-ceiling crisis to sequestration to a looming government shutdown, the nation is caught up in a historic debate over the proper size and role of government.

That’s certainly one way to think about it. Another is that we are caught up in a historic debate over free-market capitalism. After all, if markets were making most of us better off, regulating their own excesses, guaranteeing equal opportunity and fairly dividing the economic pie, then we wouldn’t need government to take on all the things it does.

For most of the past 30 years, the world has been moving in the direction of markets. The grand experiment with communism has been thoroughly discredited, a billion people have been lifted from poverty through free-market competition, and even European socialists have given up on state ownership and the nanny state. Read more

Pope Benedict XIV – An appreciation

Pope Benedict XIV – An appreciation

Clayton Sinyai

When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger became Benedict XVI, a number of “conservative” American Catholics seemed to nurse hopes that the new pope would distance the Church from its familiar social teaching on worker justice, labor unions and the regulation of the economy for the common good.

Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate proved deeply disappointing for such as these. “The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must… be honoured today even more than in the past,” the Pope instructed. Read more

Spending cuts will harm poor, warns Catholic agency

Spending cuts will harm poor, warns Catholic agency

By Adelaide Darling
A boy stands beside a CRS vehicle in the village of Katooke in western Uganda. Photo by CRS staff.

Washington D.C., Feb 21, 2013 / 05:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- If members of Congress do not come to an agreement on a debt reduction proposal, the resulting spending cuts may threaten the lives of those in poverty, cautioned Catholic Relief Services.

Members of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, an initiative of Catholic Relief Services, agreed with conclusions by several U.S. bishops that while “Congress has a responsibility to reduce federal deficits and improve our fiscal health,” it should “do so in ways that give moral priority to programs that help people living in poverty, both at home and abroad.” Read more

A Speech To The Pontifical Council For Justice and Peace – John J. Sweeney

A Speech To The Pontifical Council For Justice and Peace John J. Sweeney President, AFL-CIO Meeting of Trade Union Leaders Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace December 2-3, 1996

I. The principal problems for the world of work resulting from the process of globalization of the economy.
I want to thank Cardinal Etchegaray and the Pontifical Council for the great honor of participating in this meeting.
I am here as president of the AFL-CIO, the more than 13 million-member labor federation of the United States. As we do in our work every day, I will try to speak for the values and the interests of working Americans — people of every faith and viewpoint, union and non-union. And I will speak out of a deep belief that we share those concerns with our sisters and brothers throughout the world.
Cardinal Etchegaray has set the tone for this discussion in his article calling upon us all to “re-establish the concepts of solidarity and common responsibility as essential principles of the human endeavor.” As he writes, “These principles must be placed not just at the center of international development policy, but so much more so in the hearts of citizens and of societies, especially in the wealthier countries.” Read more