Portents of a major social justice conflict among the U.S. bishops
rose on the first day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting Monday when retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Texas, denounced a proposed pastoral statement on workers, poverty and the economy as a betrayal of Catholic social teaching.
If approved in its draft form, the statement would be "lampooned" in the Catholic academic world, he said.
Fiorenza, a former USCCB president, said the proposed statement devotes only one short sentence to the long history of Catholic social teaching on workers' rights to organize in unions, to bargain collectively with their employers and to go on strike if their demands for just wages and working conditions are not met.
"Every pope from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI has insisted upon the right to unionize," he said, but the proposed pastoral statement facing the bishops "gives short shrift" to that teaching.
[Update: Fiorenza was successful; the statement was not approved by the bishops.]