The Association of United States Catholic Priests
In support of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Labor Day Statement 2015
August 31, 2015
We applaud the recent Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, who serves as chairman of the bishops’ committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
Archbishop Wenski affirms that human labor is more than simply a source of income — as important as that is for individuals and families. He points out that, in the creation story, “God gives us labor as a gateway into participation with Him in the ongoing unfolding of creation.” He cites the challenging words of Pope Francis in Laudato si that human labor “is a deeply holy thing” inseparable from our relationship with the environment. We agree.
As members of the Leadership Team of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, we speak on behalf of the one thousand member-priests of our association. We are priests in parishes and in various pastoral ministries called to minister to people with good jobs, with no jobs, and everywhere in between. We see what Pope Francis says in Laudato Si, that human labor must always be linked with care for creation.
We see too the contrary experience, “the violation of human dignity . . . in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life.”
“Labor should allow the worker to develop and flourish as a person,” said our bishops. We priests, serving individuals and families daily in 129 dioceses of the United States, affirm that view: “Work also must provide the means for families to prosper,” they said. We add our voices to the bishops’ call for a living wage for workers and for the “indispensable” role of unions and worker associations in that effort.
Our own institutions also employ many thousands of church workers and ministers. Our association members have called for a study of church labor practice and religious exemptions with regard to our labor policies. This will be done with an eye to having the Church, as an employer, apply what it teaches and believes in regard to the dignity of our workers.
With our bishops on this Labor Day, we emphasize that “dignified work with a living wage is critical to helping our families and our greater society thrive.”
This statement is issued on behalf of the membership of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests by the following members of the leadership team:
Rev. Bernard “Bob” Bonnot, Diocese of Youngstown, chair
Rev. David Cooper, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, past chair
Rev. Kevin Clinton, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, vice-chair
Rev. Joe Ruggieri, Diocese of Youngstown, secretary
Rev. Frank Eckart, Diocese of Toledo, treasurer
Rev. Dan Divis, Diocese of Cleveland
Rev. Jim Kiesel, Archdiocese of Baltimore
Rev. Jim Schexnayder, Diocese of Oakland.
Rev. John Stabeno, Diocese of Camden
Rev. Bernie Survil, Diocese of Greensburg
Rev. Frank Wagner, Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Rev. Clarence Williams, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests was founded in 2011. With about 1,000 priest members, the AUSCP is the largest association of priests in the United States giving voice to their mutual concerns.
AUSCP National Office
Sister Jacquelyn Doepker, OSF, Executive Secretary
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