Did you know that the social mission of the Catholic Church is founded in our understanding of human life and dignity? Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. That means each of us are worth of the respect that comes from being a child of God. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says Catholic Social Teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness among the challenges of modern society.
There are 7 key themes to Catholic Social Teaching. You can read about them at www.usccb.org. But for Labor Day weekend, let’s focus on just one of those themes – The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. Basically, it says this: The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of contributing to God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative (usccb.org). Catholic Social Teaching doesn’t care about political affiliation or social status. It cares about one thing – the truth. The truth that we are made in God's image, and called to reach out and build relationships of love and justice. This truth applies to both management and workers alike.
During my 40 years working on large power generation and heavy industrial projects, I have seen both sides of labor and management with merits and shortcomings for each of them. But the one common thread I see run through both is that good things happen when they put the worker first, and bad things happen when either let greed or pride get in the way. This Labor Day, as we pay tribute to the working men and women of our great country, let’s also renew our commitment to the Catholic social mission. A mission which can only be accomplished when rooted in prayer and the Gospels. For it is through our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart necessary to truly love one another and value each other’s dignity in the workplace.