Jesus H. Christ, why aren't we making a huge deal out of the Pope's pronouncement this week that God Himself supports labor unions?!
God wants unions to expand their influence into all aspects of society, according to Pope Benedict.
Maybe we all missed it, due to the (lack of) media coverage, but this should be a huge boost to the Employee Free Choice Act! As a union leader myself, I'm thrilled to have the support of the Creator of the Universe, Jesus, the Pope, and the Catholic Church!
Take that, conservative "religious" leaders who preach against unions in general, and specifically against EFCA.
Angelic trumpet-blast details below the fold!
This week, Pope Benedict released the third encyclical letter of his papacy, "Charity in Truth." This is a big deal, years in preparation. An encyclical letter is the highest form of papal teaching.
This one is about the economy. Media coverage has focused on the fact that the Pope blames banks and big business for the current meltdown. But to me the real news is how strongly he supports labor unions!
Wow, thanks Pope, you rock!
Here's a link to the official Vatican site of the complete text, if you want to read all 144 pages:
It's worth reading, because it's scholarly, thoughtful, well-written, and based in love. Sometimes, due mostly to the Catholic Church's anti-abortion focus, we forget that the Church can be surprisingly liberal.
If you want just a couple of quotes from the encyclical on labor unions, here you go:
"Budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers' associations. Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level."
"While reflecting on the theme of work, it is appropriate to recall how important it is that labour unions — which have always been encouraged and supported by the Church — should be open to the new perspectives that are emerging in the world of work. Looking to wider concerns than the specific category of labour for which they were formed, union organizations are called to address some of the new questions arising in our society: I am thinking, for example, of the complex of issues that social scientists describe in terms of a conflict between worker and consumer. Without necessarily endorsing the thesis that the central focus on the worker has given way to a central focus on the consumer, this would still appear to constitute new ground for unions to explore creatively. The global context in which work takes place also demands that national labour unions, which tend to limit themselves to defending the interests of their registered members, should turn their attention to those outside their membership, and in particular to workers in developing countries where social rights are often violated. The protection of these workers, partly achieved through appropriate initiatives aimed at their countries of origin, will enable trade unions to demonstrate the authentic ethical and cultural motivations that made it possible for them, in a different social and labour context, to play a decisive role in development."
Update: Many people who have commented on this diary have missed my point, and instead have used this as a place for anti-Catholic views, or to proclaim that this is "nothing new" because the Church has supported labor unions for over a hundred years.
The point I was trying to make, and I guess didn't do very well, was this: Right now is a key moment for the union movement, with the potential to unionize lots and lots of workplaces, IF we can get the Employee Free Choice Act passed into law.
Unions are the key to a better life for hundreds of thousands of workers who are currently underpaid and have little or no benefits. And at this key moment, the Pope issues a rare encyclical setting church law holding up labor unions as the answer to most of society's problems. Wow!
Regardless of whether you love or hate the Church, regardless of whether you think this is nothing new, you must see this is great support for the union movement from a world leader who is followed by a billion people, right when we need it most!
In my line of work, this is going to be a huge help. With Wal-mart and other adamantly anti-union companies spending millions to defeat the labor movement, it's going to be great to tell workers who are on the fence about this issue: OK, Wal-mart is against unionization, but the Pope is for it. Who do you trust?
It's a tool, and I'm going to use it. I'd appreciate any help I can get.