Pope Francis Discusses the Dignity of Work

In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.

This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.

Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.

But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.

Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.

All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.

Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.

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Working People

Our corporate media lines up hard against working people. They extol the virtues of the rich and proclaim the necessity of robbing the worker in every situation, from maintaining an unequal tax structure that permits some to pile up great wealth while forcing workers to pay more than the Biblical ten percent on every loaf of bread and gallon of milk they buy. 

They yammer constantly about the totally fallacious “necessity” of cutting Social Security or putting it into the stock market where the wealthy can get a bite of it, but they say nothing about the vast corporate welfare and “privatization,” (Which is just a form of graft that attaches corporate profits to the tax base.) that is actually bankrupting the country. 

You would think, listening to them, that a living wage was robbery and robbing retirements and social security so that we go back to the practice of putting our elderly people in poor farms was righteousness. 

Who are working people?

I believe that would be you and me. And a few others in our past and present. Let’s have a look. 

Working People 

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American Bishops Urge Renewal of Economy

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif.

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2012 / 12:03 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ point man on domestic justice issues has called for an economic renewal that places “working people and their families at the center of economic life.”

“Everyone and every institution has a role to play in building a more just economy,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., who chairs the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He recalled the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II that both “society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family.”

In his 2012 Labor Day statement, the bishop reflected on the “moral and human dimensions” of “a broken economy that is not producing enough decent jobs.”

He observed that more than 46 million people in the U.S. live in poverty, and more than 16 million children grow up in poverty.

In addition, he noted, there are more than 12 million people looking for work but unable to find it, “and millions more have actually given up seeking employment.”

Millions of other individuals are “underemployed,” wishing to work full time but unable to find a job that allows them to do so, he added, while over 10 million families are “working poor,” unable to meet their basic needs despite being employed.

These numbers show “a serious economic and moral failure for our nation,” Bishop Blaire said. He called for the faithful to show solidarity to those who are struggling, in order to help them meet basic needs.

At the same time, he said, there is a need for “national economic renewal,” keeping in mind the dignity of human work while building “an economy that serves the person rather than the other way around.” (Read more here.)


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