June 2013

Pope Francis Puts The Poor Front And Center

Sylvia Poggoli, NPR

54Over the past week, Pope Francis has launched a crescendo of attacks on the global financial system and what he calls a “cult of money” that does not help the poor. The 2-month-old papacy of Francis – the Argentina-born Jorge Bergoglio – is shaping up as a papacy focused on the world’s downtrodden…

Rethink economic systems; place man at the center: Pope Francis 

Catholic World News

Pope Francis repeated his argument that a current world crisis “is not only economic and financial but is rooted in an anthropological and ethical crisis,” as he spoke with members of the Centisimus Annus-Pro Pontifice Foundation… the Pope called for re-thinking the world’s financial system and setting a higher priority on solidarity. An economic system, the Pope insisted, must be centered on people rather than profits, and the dignity of labor rather than the accumulation of capital. “There is not worse material poverty,” he said, “than that which does not allow people to earn their daily bread and deprives them of the dignity of work.”

Pope Francis spotlights social teaching with blunt calls for ethical economy

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. Catholics on the front lines of social justice struggles expressed delight at Pope Francis’ frequent references to caring for the poor, his trenchant remarks about “savage capitalism,” and his calls for government intervention to pursue the common good in the face of hostile market forces.”Quite frankly, it brings tears to my eyes,” said Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK. “It’s been so long since one of our leaders brought the struggle of humanity front and center. It’s a relief — and a joy — to see the Gospel being preached with such clarity.”

Growing the Ranks of ‘Labor Priests’

Barbara Doherty, AFL-CIO

29An effort is under way to reinvigorate the ranks of “labor priests” in the Catholic Church. This new network of labor priests aims to build a contemporary home for a century-old tradition of speaking out for workers’ rights and fighting against injustice alongside workers….

Some 30 priests who attended a conference for labor priests in Chicago last May. The National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC) organized the conference with support from unions, the AFL-CIO and other organizations, including Interfaith Worker Justice and the Catholic-Labor Network.

“Labor priests are all over the country but we have had no vehicle to find and talk to each other,” says the Rev. Clete Kiley, director of immigration policy at UNITE HERE and a conference architect. “We needed training and a way to communicate. We needed a visible body. We needed to organize!” Kiley chuckles.

Catholics must take a stand in support of Walmart employees

Jeffry Ordell Korgen, Interfaith Worker Justice
(on US Catholic blog)

It would be hard to compete with Pharaoh in the realm of obduracy, but Walmart is giving the old man a run for his money. Like the Israelite brick makers of Exodus Chapters 5-11 Walmart workers, organized as OUR Walmart, are asking for respect-specifically, increasing the flexibility of working hours, moving up to full-time work when possible, and increasing pay to a minimum of $25,000 annually….Why should Catholics care? Our commitment to the rights of workers, particularly low-wage workers, is as old as the Hebrew scriptures…The Catechism emphasizes the importance of solidarity among workers and the right to strike when necessary, but it also underscores the importance of solidarity between employers and employees, which requires the mutual respect OUR Walmart demands…