Sunday, May 02, 2010

Workers Rights and Catholic Social Teachings

The first weekend of May in some States is still known as  the  Labour Day long weekend. It's the poor cousin of public holidays with none of the mythic allure of the previous week's ANZAC holiday where dawn services, parades and saturation media bring in the crowds.

But the true believers still take to the streets keeping alive the memory of the struggle for workers rights and conditions which are denied to many in developing countries.

I think  it's something deep in my Catholic pysche about processions that calls me out to this annual pilgrimage with its ritual chants, regulations T/Shirts, and voices raised in the common chorus of Solidarity Forever.

 I have captured a collection of images from the annual march in Brisbane. Among the faces of friends I see many who are also fellow pilgrims of faith in various stage of Catholicism. Most march with their union, some march with groups advocating for justice issues.

In recent years the only group that carried a banner with any sort of identity with Catholicism came from St Mary's Community South Brisbane. However even their banner was not in its usual spot among the community groups this year.

Once again as I watched the parade pass before me I wondered about one of my favourite quotes from the Vatican documents: The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor and afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well (GS#1).

How can we expect the people of our time to know that the Church is with them in their struggles if we don't join them in their rituals? What happened to the enthusiasm for public witness that seemed to be part and parcel of the WYD2008?
Like the good sisters in this image too many Catholics are "footpath observers". The call to solidarity in the cause of justice is a call to join  the women and men of good will in the struggle and walk the hard yards for human rights.Our processional rituals in the Eucharist of presenting gifts and receiving communion should take us out into the streets in solidarity, compassion and celebration of the struggle for justice. 

I believe part of the problem for  many in the Church is a lack of awareness of the tradition of Catholic Social Teachings about Labour and workers rights. .For this year's commemoration I have designed a photo essay of texts from various sources to produce:Workers Rights and Catholic Social Teachings. 

My hope is that this resource will encourage parishes and groups to join the Labour Day March in their local communities in 2011!!!

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