Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bishop calls for a ‘new social contract,’ one that honors work and workers

“A new social contract, which begins by honoring work and workers, must be forged that ultimately focuses on the common good of the entire human family,“ Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre says in a Labor Day statement issued in his role as chairman of a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“This Labor Day,” he writes, “we must seek to protect the life and dignity of each worker in a renewed and robust economy. Workers need to have a real voice and effective protections in economic life.”

Bishop Murphy emphasizes the role of civil society, which he calls “perhaps the most undervalued and overlooked” compared to the state and the market. He asks, “Could a reawakening and new development of the roles of intermediary institutions, including voluntary associations and unions, be a force to call the market to a greater understanding of the centrality of the worker?”

The statement, titled “A New ‘Social Contract’ for Today’s ‘New Things’.”draws heavily on Pope Benedict’s teaching in his encyclical, Charity in Truth. On a central point, Murphy quotes these words of the Pope: “I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world’s economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Bishop Murphy, as chair of the Catholic conference’s committee on domestic justice and human development, has taken the lead in describing the need for a “new social contract.” What’s next?
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