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U.S. Bishops’ Labor Day statement calls for an economy that works for all

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WASHINGTON (CNS) – “Current ills in our economy” invite Catholics to consider how to come up with new and creative responses to vital human needs in a post-pandemic world, said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the United States Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in the American Bishops’ Annual Statement on Labor Day.

Acknowledging that the economy is showing signs of recovery despite the continuing pandemic, Archbishop Coakley said the present time presented an opportunity to “build consensus around human dignity and the common good”.

But despite signs of economic recovery, he said in the September 2 statement, millions of Americans continue to struggle financially because of unemployment, poverty and hunger made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are still many uncertainties surrounding this pandemic; However, we know that our society and our world will never be the same again, ”said the Archbishop.

Archbishop Coakley congratulated and thanked the many workers “who have made our country function during these difficult times and have worked under difficult and often underestimated conditions.”

“We also pray for those who have lost or continue to lack resources or income, as research indicates that 47% of adults experienced loss of employment income” from March 2020, when the pandemic shutdowns began , and February 2021, he said.

Despite some job gains, the statement said the unemployment rate in July, at 5.4%, was higher than the unemployment rate of 3.5% in February 2020.

“Adults in low-income households were more likely to experience a loss of employment income than those in high-income households,” the Archbishop said. “And women accounted for more than half of the job losses in the first seven months of the recession (during the pandemic) even though they make up less than half of the workforce.”

Archbishop Coakley also pointed out that more than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

“It is particularly heartbreaking that as many as 43,000 underage children in the United States have lost a parent as a result of the pandemic. Families who have lost a breadwinner are now more financially vulnerable, with a projection of 42 million people in the United States facing food insecurity this year, including 13 million children, ”he said. .

Such concerns, the statement continued, underline the need to heed the words of Pope Francis in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship”, where he shared a vision for the post-pandemic world “which aspires to a world brotherhood. that leaves no one on the margins of society.

“He denounces the reality that women are not yet recognized as having the same dignity as men, that racism continues shamefully and that those who are poor, disabled, unborn or old are often seen as indispensable,” said the archbishop.

In addition, the Archbishop explained, the Pope stressed that such a “universal brotherhood” can be achieved “when our social and economic systems cease to claim victims”.

Noting that the Pope has reflected that the answer to economic inequalities does not lie in neoliberalism or the financial markets themselves, but in “proactive policies focused on the common good,” Archbishop Coakley said.

Instead, he added, the Pope in his 2020 book “Let Us Dream” promotes a “new philosophy” around economic thought based on the work of economists Mariana Mazzucato and Kate Raworth.

Citing the book, the statement said that “the ideas of economists have formed from their experience in the periphery reflecting concern over the grotesque inequality of billions of people facing extreme poverty while the top 1% rich own half of the world’s financial wealth “.

In the book, the Pope also said he sees a thought that is “not ideological, which goes beyond the polarization of free market capitalism and state socialism and which has at the heart of the concern that all mankind have access to land, housing and labor All of these speak to the priorities of the gospel and the principles of the social doctrine of the Church.

In the future, Archbishop Coakley, quoted the second reading of Sunday Masses before Labor Day, where St. James “tells us that we become judges with evil designs when we stay away from the poor.”

“Pope Francis made a similar point when he observed that we sometimes justify our indifference to the poor by looking away and living our lives as if they just don’t exist. Not only are our actions insufficient, but our sight too, when we ignore the poor and do not allow their pleas to touch our hearts, ”he said.

He called on Catholics to accept the challenge to “come out of this crisis with an economy that works for all of God’s children”.

He also urged people to pray for those who died during the pandemic, the sick, those who lost their jobs and for a definitive end to the crisis.

In addition, the Archbishop called on people to “do what we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from increasing infections.” And he suggested that people find the time to volunteer or donate in a local parish, with Catholic charities or a Catholic Campaign for Human Development-funded organization that works to rebuild communities.

“Finally, let us commit ourselves to building ‘a better policy’ by dialoguing with elected officials, calling them to an authentic policy which is rooted in the dignity of the human person and promotes the common good.”

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