Labor Day weekend offers a “kairos moment, a moment of crisis as well as opportunity,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasized in its annual Labor Day statement.
Such a moment requires Christians to identify and support cooperative initiatives that honor workers, ensure safe working conditions and provide just wages, thereby increasing social solidarity and stabilizing society.
“A lack of work can be devastating to the human person, and it can undermine solidarity and destabilize society,” explained Frank J. Dewane, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, who authored the 2017 message.
Economic inequality is a continued challenge and another destabilizing force in society, the statement emphasized.
“Study after study shows that the economy is growing and unemployment is declining,” Dewane noted, “but wages remain stagnant or are decreasing for the vast majority of people, while a smaller percentage collect the new wealth being generated.”
The resulting “economic stresses contribute to a decline in marriage rates, increases in births outside of two-parent households and child poverty,” he observed. “Economic instability also hurts the faith community, as Americans who have recently experienced unemployment are less likely to go to church, even though such communities can be a source of great support in difficult times.”
He added, “When unethical labor conditions weaken the social pact, society can become vulnerable to attempts to use fear, and our care and concern for one another can disintegrate into blame and suspicion.”
The statement concluded by offering eight areas in which Christians could respond constructively to this “kairos moment.”
These included following Jesus’ example of solidarity with people in need by being Good Samaritans, encouraging societal solidarity and cooperation by “balancing the legitimate role of profit in a business and the moral obligations to pay a just wage,” and ensuring that workers have adequate time for rest and renewal.
The full statement is available here.
Editor’s note: EthicsDaily.com’s two-part series for Labor Day 2017, as well as other related resources, is available here.