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NY Bishop: Workers Need 'New Social Contract

"A good job at good wages for everyone willing and able to work should be our national goal and a moral priority."

A Long Island, NY Catholic Bishop is calling for a "new social contract" for workers, saying that "a good job at good wages for everyone willing and able to work should be our national goal and a moral priority."

Bishop William Murphy, of the Rockville Centre Diocese, issued those words in a 2010 Labor Day statement on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He serves as the chairman of that group's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

In the statement, "A New 'Social Contract' for Today's 'New Things,'" Bishop Murphy added that "the rewards and 'security' that employers and society offer workers in return for an honest day's work do not reflect the global economy of the 21st century in which American workers are now trying to compete."

"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?" asked Bishop Murphy. He responded by saying that current Pope Benedict "believes this": "He suggests that the various components of civil society can work, along with those in the market and the state, to introduce elements in favor of an economy of gift and gratuitousness." [Emphasis his]

In a section of the statement entitled "Wage Fairness and a New Social Contract," Bishop Murphy says that across the country workers are being exploited, citing some examples. It is in this section that he says "a good job and good wages for everyone who is willing and able to work should be our national goal and moral priority."

Bishop Murphy uses Pope Leo Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum encyclical, which he calls "the Magna Carta of Catholic social teaching," and Pope Benedict's recent Caritas in Veritate encyclical as the building blocks for the new contract.

Absent from the statement are definitions of what are fair or good wages.

One last thing…
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