Bishop Murphy reflects on economic challenges and dignity of work in U.S. Bishops’ Labor Day Statement

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WASHINGTON—“This Labor Day, we should take a moment to pray for all workers and all those without work” said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., in “The Value of Work; the Dignity of the Human Person,” the annual Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He added, “We should also ask God’s help in living out the Church’s call to defend human life and dignity, to protect workers and their rights and to stand with the poor and vulnerable in difficult economic times.”

Bishop Murphy, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Social Development, said this Labor Day comes at a challenging economic time. He highlighted Pope Benedict XVI’s assertion in his new encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth) that the dignity of the worker should be the top concern of any economy. According to Pope Benedict, “the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is…the human person in his or her integrity: Man is the source, the form and the aim of all economic and social life.” (#25)

Bishop Murphy also drew on the recent agreement between leaders in Catholic health care, the labor movement and the Catholic bishops to develop practical guidelines on how leaders of hospitals, unions and others might apply Catholic principles in reaching agreements in their own situations.

“This project achieved a significant accomplishment: a consensus among all the parties on a set of principles, processes, and guidelines for a respectful and harmonious approach to let workers in Catholic health care facilities make free choices about unionization,” said Bishop Murphy of the dialogue, which resulted in a consensus document, Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions.

The annual Labor Day Statement also touched on the continuing principles of the Church’s social teaching, and isues of health care and immigration. The full text of the Labor Day statement can be found online at: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/labor_day_2009.pdf

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