Skip to comments.Use Labor Day to remember Catholic social doctrine, priest says
Posted on 09/03/2012 7:41:32 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Port Arthur, Texas, Sep 3, 2012 / 06:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest involved in labor advocacy says that Labor Day is a time to reflect on Catholic teaching about the role of work in society and in Gods plan for mankind.
Labor Day is just really an opportunity to focus not on the secular world, but on what our Church teaches, Father Sinclair Oubre, spiritual moderator of the Catholic Labor Network, told CNA Aug. 30.
Fr. Oubre is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Port Arthur, Texas, in addition to his duties with the Catholic Labor Network. He said his network aims to re-establish the wonderful tradition of Catholic social teaching on labor, the dignity of workers, and their right to organize a union.
The roots of Labor Day are Catholic, he said. While the origins of the annual September holiday are disputed, the priest credits 19th-century Catholic labor activist Peter J. McGuire with founding the holiday.
Fr. Oubre said Catholic teaching has a positive view of work. Catholics should remember that they are co-creators in Gods ongoing creation and are called to build up the kingdom of God in their daily labor.
This means that those who are in positions of responsibility, like management or ownership, have a moral responsibility to work for justice. They should recognize that their workers and employees are not simply another means in the production process.
Workers, for their part, should reflect deeply upon their own responsibilities.
Whether its working for an insurance company processing claims or working at a General Motors plant up in Michigan, they are participating in a common effort, Fr. Oubre said.
They owe both God and their employer a full days work for a full days wages. They are really called to work as best they can because they are participating, while they work, in Gods ongoing creation.
He encouraged those without work to remain hopeful and to look to their religious or parish community as a source of support.
In his small, predominantly black Texas parish, the priest reported, the most pressing concern is not unemployment but underemployment.
Either people are being forced to work part-time to avoid losing benefits that go to take care of health care and retirement, or they are having to work multiple jobs because the wages they are receiving are so low that they and their family cannot live on it, he said.
He said Catholics should search their souls and not get caught up in the rhetoric of the secular world saying that the market will take care of it. The sole reliance on the market has been rejected by papal teaching, he noted.
Fr. Oubre also finds some common views of the unemployed are troubling. People sometimes assume that those who cant care for themselves are obviously just lazy.
I think its scary in the rhetoric I hear around me, as we focus so much on Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, he said, referring to the 20th century novelist who advocated radical individualism and capitalism.
The priest is wary of the mentality that says, Ill take care of myself and pull myself up by my own bootstraps. He stressed that people are social creatures and need to care for those who are born with health problems or who suffer crippling accidents.
Im speaking of family members whose children are born with spina bifida and have to try to raise their child and meet their health care needs. Im thinking of the worker whos driving to work and suddenly is caught up in an auto accident thats not his fault and is paralyzed from the waist down, he said.
We talk about I just take care of myself. Theres somethings that happen where people cant take care of themselves.
In order to know how to live in the modern economy, Fr. Oubre encouraged the study of Catholic social thought.
He said Pope Leo XIIIs 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum rejected both socialism and the brutal, brutal capitalism that was crushing and killing people in the transition from agricultural to industrial society. The encyclical stressed that workers could not justly enter into a contract that paid them a wage that did not give them at least a wage that they and their family could live upon.
He clearly condemned unregulated free marketism as well as socialism as being an insult to human dignity, Fr. Oubre said.
Catholic social teaching on the place of labor has continued through various popes to Pope Benedict XVIs 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate.
Fr. Oubre also recommended that Catholics read the U.S. bishops Labor Day statement.
He noted that Labor Day has traditionally marked an increase in political activity.
It is absolutely imperative that Catholics be authentic to their Catholic social teaching, and not be cafeteria Catholics of the left or the right. The real challenge is to conform ourselves to what our Church calls us to.
That means being pro-life, that means standing up for the dignity of marriage, he said. That also means fighting for the rights of our immigrant community and acknowledging the rights of workers to organize unions and participate in collective bargaining.
We have to try to live every aspect of Catholic social teaching, he said.
....I think its scary in the rhetoric I hear around me, as we focus so much on Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, he said, referring to the 20th century novelist who advocated radical individualism and capitalism. The priest is wary of the mentality that says, Ill take care of myself and pull myself up by my own bootstraps. He stressed that people are social creatures and need to care for those who are born with health problems or who suffer crippling accidents....
....In order to know how to live in the modern economy, Fr. Oubre encouraged the study of Catholic social thought. He said Pope Leo XIIIs 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum rejected both socialism and the brutal, brutal capitalism that was crushing and killing people in the transition from agricultural to industrial society. The encyclical stressed that workers could not justly enter into a contract that paid them a wage that did not give them at least a wage that they and their family could live upon. He clearly condemned unregulated free marketism as well as socialism as being an insult to human dignity, Fr. Oubre said.
Catholic social teaching on the place of labor has continued through various popes to Pope Benedict XVIs 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Fr. Oubre also recommended that Catholics read the U.S. bishops Labor Day statement.
Peter Cardinal Turkson, President of the Vaticans Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has a message for Catholics in America, particularly those involved in social justice ministry, that could put a damper on the political machinations of the Shadow Party.
The message? Social justice is about relationships, not socialism. This clarification may very well be the catalyst to set the Catholic Church in America back on course with authentic Catholic teaching on hot-button issues involving massive government entitlement programs and other forms of overreach. If nothing else, it will almost certainly jump-start the social justice debate among Catholics. Cardinal Turkson, you see, is scheduled to deliver the plenary address at the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in February.It would be useful if we just observed our sense of justice as our ability to fulfill the demands of the relationships in which we stand.Whether he intended to or not, Cardinal Turkson has now echoed what many conservative Catholics in America have been calling for repeatedly subsidiarity in economic policy. More importantly, the Cardinal observes the heart of the matter in noting that a handout and a gift are not at all the same, with the latter being more in keeping with the Gospel message.
This is in contrast to socialism, he explained, which is an ideology in which private property and private interests are totally placed in the service of government policies. What the Pope proposes in Caritas in Veritate, said Cardinal Turkson, is achieving the common good without sacrificing personal, private interests, aspirations and desires.
Cardinal Turkson said the Council was also surprised that the Popes concept of the gift, was perceived in some circles as encouraging government welfare handouts. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict described the concept of gift as a way to understand Gods love for men and women in his gift of life and his gift of Jesus.
Communism was never popular in America, and no American group was more fervently anti-Communist than the Catholics. The American bishops, like the Vatican, had condemned Marxism before 1900 for its atheism, its violation of natural law principles, and its theory of inevitable class conflict. They condemned the Russian Revolution of 1917 that brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power. They condemned American Communism in the 1930s for its adherence to the Moscow party line, its frequent about-turns of policy, and its support of the anti-Catholic Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.
Even in the Second World War, when America and the Soviet Union were allies against Nazism, Catholics kept their distance. Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque, for example, warned in 1942 that "the Christ-haters of Moscow and their international brethren may well take note of the Church Militant when she becomes aroused." And even as victorious American and Soviet troops shook hands at the River Elbe in early 1945, Catholic Mind reminded its readers that although "during the war there has been much wishful thinking about the transformation of the Soviet system the reality remains unchanged." It added that "the war has given the dictatorship a stronger, more penetrating grip on the country than it ever had before." But it was in the twenty years of the "high" Cold War era, 1945-1965, that Catholic anti-Communism reached its climax, affecting every Catholic at home, at school, at work, in politics, in church, and even in devotional life.
The "culture wars" of the 1970s and 1980s contributed to the fragmentation of American Catholic culture, which enjoyed little of the certitude that had held it together in the 1950s. Marxist Communism as an atheist ideology had lost virtually all its radiance by the mid 1970s though it began to show up in religious dress, much modified, in elements of liberation theology. Still, the old anti-Communist verities lived on in the mind of Pope John Paul II. Annealed to political-religious struggle in Cold War Poland, he recognized no essential change in the situation, however much his American flock might be experiencing second thoughts. The events of 1989 vindicated him, enabling Catholic anti-Communists everywhere to rejoice. Their own view of the world had prevailed while its greatest rival of the century had degenerated and then died.
So if people can support Ryan -- then they are supporting the REAL Catholic definition of social justice!
As Ryan says
The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day.Serious problems like those we face today require charitable conversation. Civil public dialogue goes to the heart of solidarity, the virtue that does not divide society into classes and groups but builds up the common good of all.The overarching threat to our whole society today is the exploding federal debt. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are living at the expense of future generations and living in untruth.We in this country still have a window of time before a debt-fueled economic crisis becomes inevitable. We can still take control before our own needy suffer the fate of Greece. How we do this is a question for prudential judgment, about which people of good will can differ...Simply put, I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government.Look at the results of the government-centered approach to the war on poverty. One in six Americans are in poverty today the highest rate in a generation. In this war on poverty, poverty is winning. We need a better approach.To me, this approach should be based on the twin virtues of solidarity and subsidiarityvirtues that, when taken together, revitalize civil society instead of displacing it.Government is one word for things we do together. But it is not the only word. We are a nation that prides itself on looking out for one another and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasnt worked.You can read the entire speech here. Here is a video
Thanks for the repeat and the additional quote from Ryan’s speech.
Thanks to both of you for your posts
No thank you, we've seen enough examples of that.
And who would define just what “Social Justice” is? The Vatican? Catholic bishops? Catholic congressmen like Robert Drinan?
Again, no thank you, “social justice” is just social injustice with a smile.
Will you be voting for Paul Ryan’s views then? Maybe not?
Pretty much describes why we are in the mess we now find ourselves.
One thing we all should have learned about politicians of every stripe by now is that their expressed views before election are as meaningless as a promise of a good time written on a restroom wall.
Even the union shill priest in the article talked a good game.
Wonder why UNION leadership 99.9% of the time support lying liberals?
McGuire also founded what was renamed the “Socialist Labor Party”. “Activist”? right.
Love that guy. I wish he were head of the USCCB.
“our immigrant community”
Is that a euphemism for “hordes of illegal-alien border crashers?”
“And who would define just what Social Justice is?”
The concept of social justice is of and from Satan.
Christians are called to charity, mercy, and love. The minute you term the acts that should arise from these virtues a matter of justice, you have given the government a license to send men with guns to enforce them.
As with all leftist evil, social justice substitutes the power of the state for our God-given free will. Where God says He wants us to be loving, merciful, and charitable, but leaves us the free will to be otherwise, social justice is the state saying, Screw free will. You will *act* as we think you should, or men with guns will come and arrest, fine, or kill you.
As Shakespeare tells us, The quality of mercy (and charity, and love)...is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
Government-enforced redistribution of resources in the name of social justice is twice damned: It robs the free will of him that gives, and degrades him that takes.
Shakespeare also notes that, ...in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.
There is Gods will at work: people learning to be merciful for its own sake, and not because some leftist has a gun pointed at their heads.
And what does social justice teach us? From the POV of the taxed, Men with guns take my hard-earned wages and give it to strangers, leaving me no choice in where and whether to perform deeds of charity. From the POV of the taker, They are so reluctant to help me that men with guns have to make them do it. How deep their contempt for me must be.
As with so many of Satans programs, social justice appears to be noble, but is in fact deeply evil and destructive.
Where you find charity, mercy, and love, there also is Our Lord.
Where you find social justice, there also is Satan.
Social Justice is Socialist Justice.
Seems your thread has led to a sudden downpour of verbiage in defense of “social justice” on FR. How odd. Wonder why that might be?
Has some Vatican functionary stepped in it again, or does some Republican politician have something to overcome with conservatives in this regard?
"Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" are how Jesus summarized the Commandments. Economic activity and relationships are no more exempt from that than any other aspect of human existence, pace Ayn Rand.
(I would hope that no thinking Christian looks to Rand for any sort of guidance. Rand may be the diametrical opposite of Marx, but the opposite of an error is usually another error.)
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