Archives for February 2018

Fr. Clete Kiley’s remarks for the Chicago Labor Solidarity Day, February 24, 2018

Remarks in Support of AFCSME vs. Janus: Fr. Clete Kiley, February 24, 2018

Solidarity is the great rallying cry of organized Labor. Solidarity is also one of the most important theological principles of the Catholic Faith. Because solidarity is at stake today the Catholic Bishops of the United States stand with AFCSME, with the Labor Movement and with the millions of union members across this country. The Catholic Bishops of the United States have filed an amicus curiae brief in the Janus case in support of AFCSME.

The brief draws upon more than 125 years of Church Doctrine that supports workers, upholds their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. As Pope Francis says, “There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that is not reborn every day in the peripheries”. Unions are a positive good for society in Catholic Doctrine. The Catholic Church has never distinguished between public and private sector unions. The Catholic Bishops of the United States have been clear in their opposition to right-to-work laws since the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. The Bishops believe the right of workers to organize is substantially weakened by “so called right-to-work laws”. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference reminds us “no U.S. bishop has ever expressed support for right-to-work laws.”

Make no mistake, brothers and sisters, what is at stake in the Janus case is whether or not we will have national right-to-work. And this begins with a phony and divisive distinction between public and private sector unions. We know they mean to get rid of all unions. WE are not fooled. Such a move, the Catholic Church fears, would irrevocably damage the capacity of workers to exercise their rights.

This Supreme Court case is, pure and simple, an attack on unions under the phony guise of free speech. The man who brought this lawsuit took a good union job, agreed to the union terms, and then sued on free speech grounds because he did not like some political positions taken by his union. The Church might even agree with his objection. But we would also teach that as a union member, he has the right to push for reform in his union, in fact, he has an obligation to push for such reform. As Pope Francis says “a union needs to be reborn each day”. The solution to Mr. Janus’gripe is not the wholesale destruction of our Labor Movement.

And so, we pray: O God, who has blessed working people with the gift of solidarity in the service of justice and equality, be with us today. Solidarity is our rallying cry. Solidarity is a true gift from you that makes the crooked ways straight, and levels the mountains of economic inequality.

Let us cherish this gift of solidarity now. Give us the fullness of this gift today, for we dearly need it to face the odds against us. Solidarity must prevail. Solidarity must take precedence over the rugged individualism that destroys the common good of our nation.

As Pope Francis says, O Lord: “Solidarity- this word strikes fear in the more developed world. It is almost a dirty word for them. But it is our word!”  Rally the brothers and sisters now! Solidarity is our word. We are all in this together. May our Solidarity move their hearts and open their minds. May it strike fear where it suits Your purpose, O Lord. Solidarity today. Solidarity next Tuesday at the Supreme Court. Solidarity forever!  Amen.

Fr. Michael Seavey at Supreme Court on Feb. 26, 2018 during rally for Labor

Fr. Michael Seavey, Supreme Court rally for Labor, February 26, 2018

Thanks and gratitude for all of you gathered here today and for the tens of millions of our sisters and brothers with us in spirit. Thanks and gratitude for the work you do daily in every type of job and every sector of profession. Thanks and gratitude for your work raising families and forming true communities. May God bless all of you with peace and joy!

The right for workers to organize and form labor unions has been supported and endorsed by Official Catholic teaching through the teaching office of the popes since 1891. In that year, Pope Leo XIII condemning working and living conditions fostered by the Industrial Revolution, called on Catholic bishops throughout the world to, “Support those who strive to unite working men of various grades into associations, help them with their advice and means, and enable them to obtain fitting and profitable employment.”

Over a century later, both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI echoed that by teaching respectively, unions are “indispensable elements of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies”, and are needed now “even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response…”.

And the current Holy Father, Pope Francis says it as only Pope Francis does, “There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that is not reborn every day in the peripheries, that does not transform discarded stones of the economy into its cornerstones.”

In our nation’s history, there has been one institution and only one institution that has consistently advocated for, defended and promoted working people. That institution is not the government, it is not any political party, nor is it any think tank or corporation. The only institution that has consistently stood by working women and men at all times and under all circumstances are labor unions.

It is no coincidence that the fewer people organized in labor unions, the wider the income and wealth gap in our nation. It is no coincidence that the fewer people organized into labor unions, the more people there are lacking adequate health insurance. It is no coincidence that the fewer people organized into labor unions, there are more people working two and three jobs to make ends meet. This is not conducive to healthy family life or healthy human relationships or healthy sense of self-worth.

Anyone who believes labor unions have lived out their usefulness is living a fool’s dream.  Anyone who believes they can stand alone against the forces of economic exploitation and financial greed has embraced the devil’s bargain.

Try standing alone before “efficiency” determinations downsize your office; leaving you on the outside looking in. Try standing alone before “economic emergencies” rob your pension funds while corporate executives receive salary increases and hefty bonuses. Try standing alone when a recent diagnosis on your family health plan coincides with a soon-to-be layoff targeting only you. You will soon find yourself discarded on the lonely heap of used and abused workers lost in a heartless wasteland.

There is a saying that anyone willing to trade liberty for security deserves neither. That needs to be extended to say “anyone willing to trade solidarity for individual freedom has neither.” That’s “the devil’s bargain”, and” the devil’s bargain” is the petitioner’s argument before the US Supreme Court this morning.

Only in true community do we discover our true identity and the meaning and purpose of our life. True communities are built upon and endure with love and justice. Separating individuals from supportive and protective true communities like unions is a recipe for divide and conquer, isolation and bitter loneliness, and a corrosive anger lashing out at perceived scapegoats as the culprits for their own decline. True community transforms society from the inside out; especially from the heart and soul of every person discarded on the margins of society’s abundance.

The dark forces of economic exploitation, condemned by Pope Leo in 1891 and consistently condemned by popes ever since still face us today. They are fueled by amassed wealth and power; and move against the forces of justice, true community, and true freedom. Their true identity, covered by a veneer of concern for liberty and individual rights, becomes readily apparent when the real agenda comes to the forefront.

The recent federal tax legislation signed into law made a media spectacle of throwing working people a bone. Meanwhile the meat was tossed to those already wealthy and the bill to pay for it all is passed on to everyone’s grandchildren. That was a setback!

We are experiencing and will experience more setbacks because many decks are stacked against us. We will endure these setbacks because we walk with righteousness. No matter the setbacks, keep moving forward. No matter the hostility from a well-financed opposition, keep moving forward. And keep moving forward together.

Whether we win or lose in there today, truth is on our side and no amount of money can purchase truth. Truth always prevails, and truth motivates our just cause. Tell the truth about unions and let the people organize without obstacles to bargain collectively for the common good.

Jesus said, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” Return to your homes and light the fires of solidarity across this nation. Go back home and form communities, true communities where everyone is welcomed and embraced. Go back home and welcome male and female, young and old, rich and poor, worker and supervisor, black, white, Latinx, API and all ethnicities; straight, the LGBTQ community and all orientations; liberal or conservative and all political persuasions, peoples of all faiths or of no faith at all.

Go back home, and form true communities with invitations to everyone who comes into your circles of life. Form true communities and let all who embrace the invitation take their rightful place. Make everyone welcomed and call forth everyone’s gifts to make and shape a community that takes responsibility for the common good of all our people.

Give to all reason to hope. Hope is one of the most precious commodities in our world today. Hope will not die so long as we keep moving forward. Hope will not die so long as there are true communities for people to feel welcomed, safe and valued. Solidarity forever and God’s blessings on you and all your loved ones. Thank you.




“I plan to get arrested Tuesday”

Photo courtesy of ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

“I plan to get arrested Tuesday” were the sentiments expressed by Fr. Tom Reese, a Priest and political journalist, who contributes a regular column to the Religion News Service.  Fr. Reese will be participating in the National Catholic Day for Dreamers on Tuesday, February 27 and shared his views on  the peaceful act of civil disobedience that may occur as participants march on Capitol Hill.  Fr. Reese stated:  “At a time when Dreamers face arrest and deportation, getting arrested is a symbolic gesture of solidarity with threatened people who are part of our community. As a Jesuit, I feel this especially because thousands of these Dreamers have been our students and parishioners. They are our friends and colleagues.”

The February 27 National Catholic Day for Dreamers was organized by the PICO Network, in partnership with Faith in Public Life and members of the DC Catholic Coalition.  Activities include Mass at 8:30 am, followed by a press conference, a non-violent action in the Russell Building Rotunda, and a visit to Congressional offices on Capital Hill.

Former President Barack Obama appointed Fr. Reese to the U. S. Commission in International Religious Freedom in 2014.  This bipartisan Commission reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. He was reappointed to another two-year term in May 2016, and elected to a one-year term as chair of the commission in June 2016.

Please click here to review Fr. Reese’s column in the National Catholic Reporter

Blog: Catholic tradition and pastoral practice sides with labor and organizing workers

Feb 26, 2018, by Fr. Tim Graff, National Catholic Reporter Opinion

As a pastor, I hear the struggles of individuals and working families every day, including those who live below the poverty line even though they work full-time. Listening to their stories through my faith perspective compels me to advocate for the dignity of each worker.  But it is also the church’s history of supporting workers who’ve been oppressed that inspires me to be vocal about this issue.

Now all of us have a choice to make: whether we will follow our values and history, or not. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could have a negative impact on working families across the United States.

The crux of Janus v. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) is whether trade unions representing public employees have a right to collect money from people who opt out of joining their designated union. It’s important for unions to collect these fees because they’re able to bargain for better wages, for benefits like healthcare and for raising standards for all workers — including those who are not unionized but are working in industries where there’s a strong union presence.

If Janus is victorious, all state and local government employment — public employment — will be considered “right-to-work,” and unions will be weakened as a result.  ” Right-to-work ” is a misnomer used by people who don’t really respect workers’ rights. “Right-to-work” laws in fact make it harder for workers to organize and thus they substantially weaken workers’ abilities to fight for dignified salaries and benefits. It’s my belief that all workers have the right to earn a dignified salary that would allow them to support themselves and their families and gain a pathway to the middle class. And I believe they have the right to organize so those salaries and benefits are available to them.

For years, I’ve advocated for our country’s working poor: publicly supporting unions like 32BJ SEIU, which represents security guards, food service employees in schools, airport workers and many others in New Jersey and elsewhere.  The fact is unions like 32BJ are vital because they not only offer job protections for their members; unions also help lift up the voices not just of their members, but of all workers.  Throughout their history, unions have led to safer working conditions; family-sustaining wages; and pensions and benefits, among other victories.

Our church has also stood in solidarity with working people for centuries.

In the late 19th Century, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical, Rerum Novarum, expressing support for human dignity, workers’ rights, and labor unions.  He knew unions steadfastly advocated for the well-being of workers and their families.

In the 1940s, Dominican Fr. Jacques Loew pioneered a movement compelling priests to work and live among workers in factories so that they could experience working-class life.

In his 1981 encyclical, Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II declared that unions were ‘indispensable … for the struggle for social justice.”

It’s this history of solidarity and social justice work that inspires me to stand with fellow Catholic leaders to ask our Supreme Court justices to preserve union rights: not just for the public sector, but to avoid threats to private-sector organizing in the future.

I live and work to uphold the Second Commandment, which compels us all to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  We cannot “love thy neighbor” if we turn a blind eye to income inequality rather than take steps to remediate it.

It’s imperative that people in power preserve workers’ freedom to stick together and bargain for their rights on the job. 32BJ and others help workers achieve these goals. They boost families and make entire neighborhoods and communities stronger. I pray you will join me in helping to ensure that those in power take that moral imperative into account.

[Fr. Tim Graff is the director of the Office of Human Concerns for the Archdiocese of Newark in New Jersey, which represents 1.4 million Catholics in 215 parishes in Northeast New Jersey.]

NFPC This Week, #748: February 18-February 24, 2018

Of Note This Week -.



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Bishop Robert Coyle returns to Long Island as Rockville Centre Auxiliary

On Tuesday, February 20, 2018, Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre, New York announced the return of Bishop Robert Coyle to the Long Island diocese as an auxiliary.  Bishop Coyle will assume his new ministry on April 2, 2018.

Prior to his recent appointment, Bishop Coyle served as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for the U. S. Military Services. Bishop Coyle had a long career in the U. S. Navy beginning with his commission as an Ensign in 1988.  In the news release Bishop Coyle commented: “I was originally ordained a priest here in 1991.  I am very grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Francis for appointing me to serve the Church on Long Island. I look forward to assisting Bishop John Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, in our pursuit of Dramatic Missionary Growth on Long Island.”

For further details click here to review the Catholic News Agency article.


Father David Brinkmoeller Retired Priest: “I’m Just Being Present”

Fr. David Brinkmoeller, a retired priest residing at the Transfiguration Spiritual Center in West Milton, Ohio, recently spoke with a reporter from the Catholic Telegraph. In the conversation, Fr. David reflected on his forty-five years as a priest and post-retirement volunteer opportunities, particularly with the Living Water Community in Trinidad.

Living Water’s ministry is deeply rooted in the Corporal Works of Mercy and Fr. Brinkmoeller traveled there to assist the community “with many ministries, any way I can.” He added: “This new chapter in my life is a chance to meet people who are much poorer than I’ve known. I want to learn what poor people experience about life and love.”

Click here for complete details in the Catholic Telegraph

Catholic students join Florida school walkouts for gun reform

Following last week’s school campus shooting in Parkland, Florida resulting in the deaths of seventeen people, high school students in Florida are now demanding positive action by the government on the issue of gun law reform. On Wednesday, February 21, walkouts were held at a dozen Florida high schools. Thousands of students left their classes to raise awareness of the need for tougher gun laws in the United States.

Students from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida held a “solidarity” walkout at noon on Wednesday that included a prayer service for the people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Alexa Hui, Student Body President, addressed her fellow students during the service stating: “I really, truly believe that this is our generation and that we can control what happens. And if we care about this, and we want to turn this into something, we can.” In a later interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Ms. Hui added: “As a Catholic school we have that extra responsibility almost to stand up for all life and protect all life.

Students from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School are currently organizing a national rally to push for Congressional action on gun control and mental health.  The “March for Our Lives” is scheduled in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018.

Click here to read the complete National Catholic Reporter article.


As the local union President in the city of Phoenix for AFSCME I was wondering if there was a labor friendly priest in this or a nearby diocese that we can contact? Someone who can come talk to our members and perhaps be a chaplain as well.
Thanks for any help you can give us.

Frank Piccioli
President AFSCME 2960