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Disappointed that author undermined sanctity of labor Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Mar. 10, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

To the editor:

I read the guest article in the Catholic Herald regarding the current labor situation in Wisconsin with deep disappointment.

The author clearly sought to undermine the Catholic moral principle of regard for the sanctity of labor and the right to form unions by selective use of quotations. The author suggests that Church doctrine does not encompass unions representing public workers, or unions that are politically active. This is simply not true.

In Laborem Exercens the Holy Father Pope John Paul II clearly defined work at the outset as including, “any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances.” The Holy Father could hardly have written a broader definition than “whatever its circumstances.”

Nor is it reasonable to posit the Holy Father would have excluded the right of unions to exist that had become too politically active or powerful, given the critical political role that Solidarity played in changing the entire political structure of his homeland. Indeed, it is impossible to read Laborem Exercens without continually encountering references to the moral primacy of labor.

The quotes the author selected on this point are taken out of context. A caution against excesses by unions should not be used as an excuse by the author to undermine the basic moral problem with this legislation — that it would deprive thousands of workers of the right to collectively bargain as unions. A right, which, until now, the Church has always fully supported.

The author closes by stating that what the Church truly teaches is that we must all seek justice. On this point I agree. But in order for all elements of society to seek justice together, labor must continue to have a voice. Otherwise, the debate will be entirely one-sided. This is neither productive, nor in keeping with long-standing Church doctrine.

Mark Herman, Madison