Fordham Notes: Bishops Recognize Labor, Feerick Center

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bishops Recognize Labor, Feerick Center

In its Labor Day Statement, "The Value of Work; The Dignity of the Human Person," the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) discussed its ongoing dialogue with Catholic health care workers as an example of the values that the church should pursue in labor issues.

William F. Murphy, bishop of Rockville Centre and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote that an example of "a positive step forward in respect for workers," was a consensus statement, Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions, between the Catholic Health Association, the AFL/CIO, the Service Employees International Union and USCCB, which he said offers guidance on how workers can make a free decision about whether or not they want to be represented by a union.

Bishop Murphy cited the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law School, and its dean, John Feerick, in helping to "look at real situations and genuine differences in light of some basic themes in Catholic social teaching."

The consensus statement was informed by the encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, published this year, according to Bishop Murphy. He said, "decent work, according to the encyclical, 'means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for children, without the children themselves being forced into labor; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for re-discovering one’s roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.'”

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