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Labor-priest movement reviving?

July 10, 2012

Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum led some US priests—notably Msgr. John Ryan (1869-1945) and Msgr. George Higgins (1916-2002), among others—to devote themselves to labor-related issues.

In May, the National Federation for Priests Councils hosted a conference to help foster a new “labor priest” movement. The 27 priests who attended the conference with permission of their bishops discussed “the idea of a living wage, worker wage-theft, job security, the collapsing middle class, union avoidance techniques, the tension between union organizers and management especially in Catholic institutions such as hospitals and schools.”

In addition, an official of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development discussed how to place “the context of worker and immigrant rights in the framework of dignity of life and expressing this through the Church’s focus of New Evangelization.”


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  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Jul. 10, 2012 7:32 PM ET USA

    This could be good as long as the priests are focused on the salvation of the workers and on true justice, not simply unions for the sake of unions. I'd be afraid that these guys see unions as ends unto themselves and the Democrats as the way to protect those unions. So yes, that they would become political. But it would be a political that the MSM deem praiseworthy and so it would go unremarked as political and instead be seen as seeking justice.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 10, 2012 6:32 PM ET USA

    I wonder if the US Bishops' Committee official said anything about the "union avoidance techniques" that the individual bishops use when they want to squash union organizing within their own dioceses?