This Labor Day, our country continues to struggle with a broken economy that is not producing enough decent jobs. Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation. As people of faith, we are called to stand with those left behind, offer our solidarity, and join forces with ‘the least of these’ to help meet their basic needs. We seek national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life.”
Whoops, it appears as though the Roman Catholic bishops actually agree with the Democrats on some points. And, that would be an accurate summary. You see, if you actually read ALL of what the Catholic bishops have said, you will find that sometimes they agree with the Republicans and sometimes they agree with the Democrats. By the same token, sometimes they chastise the Democrats and sometimes they chastise the Republicans. One of the most difficult things for the right and the left to accept is that bishops of the Church are tied to Our Lord Jesus Christ and not to a particular political philosophy. This is the reason why neither Orthodox nor Catholic bishops have ever declared themselves (as a group) for either the Republican or the Democratic candidate.
But, let me go on and quote the bishops again, because they go on to “spank” this country for what is going on currently.
Officially over 12 million workers are looking for work but cannot find a job and millions more have actually given up seeking employment. Millions more are underemployed; they are willing and able to work full-time, but there are not enough jobs available. Over ten million families are “working poor”–they work hard, but their jobs do not pay enough to meet their basic needs. The sad fact is that over 46 million people live in poverty and, most disturbingly, over 16 million children grow up poor in our nation. The link between joblessness and poverty is undeniable, as Pope Benedict points out:
“In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or “because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family” (Caritas in Veritate, no. 63).”
Public officials rightfully debate the need to reduce unsustainable federal deficits and debt. In the current political campaigns, we hear much about the economy, but almost nothing about the moral imperative to overcome pervasive poverty in a nation still blessed with substantial economic resources and power.
You see, over and over and over again the Catholic bishops point out that being against abortion is not the total of Catholic pro-life theology. Nor is being against abortion the total of all the factors that go into making a political decision for whom to vote. In fact, the bishops go on to speak in language that would be called “liberal” by many conservative Roman Catholics.
These harsh economic realities bring terrible human costs for millions of families, who live with anxiety and uncertainty and cope with stagnant or falling wages. Many are forced to work second or third jobs, which places further strain on their children’s well-being, and millions of young adults are denied the ability to begin families. These people are not abstractions: they are fellow parishioners and our neighbors; our cousins, aunts, and uncles; our brothers and sisters; our mothers and fathers; possibly our own children. The economy should help families thrive, not place additional pressures on them.
This broken economy also contributes to the danger that workers will be exploited or mistreated in other ways. For example, many employees struggle for just wages, a safe workplace, and a voice in the economy, but they cannot purchase the goods they make, stay in the hotels they clean, or eat the food they harvest, prepare, or serve. Immigrants and their families are especially vulnerable, which highlights the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.
What then is the ideal solution? The ideal solution is that whether Orthodox or Roman Catholics you support in full all those matters which the bishops state are pro-life matters. As I have said before, to support some parts of being pro-life while opposing the full pro-life agenda laid out by the bishops does not make you either a faithful Roman Catholic or Orthodox. It simply makes you another sinner.