USCCB Labor Day Statement 2017

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice
Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

This Labor Day, we find ourselves at a time of kairos, a moment of crisis as well as opportunity.  Over the past year, Pope Francis has drawn our attention to problems in the world of work that seek to undermine our understanding of the dignity of the person and threaten the stability of society.  The Pope has also called us to action based on the truth about the nature of work which is intended to support the flourishing of the family.  As the Holy Father recently remarked, work "comes from the first command that God gave to Adam . . . . There has always been friendship between the Church and work, starting with a working Jesus.  Where there is a worker, there is the interest and the gaze of love of the Lord and of the Church."1  

What does our Lord's "gaze of love" see today?  Surely he honors the parents and grandparents who offer their work as "prayers said with the hands"2  for their family and future.  In turn, we thank God for the vocation of work, which, when healthy, "anoints" with dignity, helps children grow into adults, and strengthens cooperation across all people in our society.3  "Brother work," in Pope Francis' words, is formational and sustaining for every human life and community, and is essential to our faith.4  

God's "gaze of love" also receives all those who are struggling with work.  A lack of work can be devastating to the human person, and it can undermine solidarity and destabilize society.  "[T]he entire social pact is built around work," Pope Francis told a gathering of factory workers in Genoa. "This is the core of the problem.  Because when you do not work, or you work badly, you work little or you work too much, it is democracy that enters into crisis, and the entire social pact."5