American Bishops’ Labor Day Statement
In their 2014 Labor Day statement, The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops quoted two new saints, St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, on the importance of work for the dignity of the human person and the requirement that payment for work has to be based on justice. The bishops go on to cite the recent statements of Pope Francis regarding social justice and the harmful effects of capitalist economic systems. They quote the Pope regarding the importance of work for human dignity.
In their statement, the bishops mention that while the economy seems to be improving, the recovery is weak at best for many Americans and many more are faced with poverty and hunger. Forty-six million Americans struggle to make ends meet. There are not enough jobs. There are twice as many job seekers as there are available jobs, according to the bishops.
The bishops also express a serious concern about the effect of the economic crisis on the young in terms of limited job and career possibilities and the very high rates of unemployment. The unemployment rate for young adults is 12% compared to national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Even those who are fortunate to have jobs have low wage ones that keep them out of the middle class. Pope Francis has referred to young adult unemployment in strong language, calling it “evil”, an “atrocity”, and indicative of a “throw away culture”. Work that is meaningful and decent is fundamental to the creation and stability of families.
The bishops ask us to consider what our parishes and communities would look like if we recommitted ourselves to the common good: to stand in solidarity with each other. The bishops remind us that we should not just be wringing our hands and lamenting the situation of young adults. Instead they remind us to do something about it. They challenge us to overcome our “ideological bickering” to improve our economic situation in order for us to live as people made in God’s image and likeness.
Declaración del día del trabajo. Versión en español.