Economic Woes Seen as a Test of Faith

US Bishops Offer Annual Labor Day Reflection

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WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 25, 2011 ( The stark reality of unemployment and poverty is not only an economic problem, but also a moral challenge and a test of faith, according to the U.S. bishops.

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, affirmed this in «Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy,» the annual Labor Day statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The statement was released Wednesday.

Bishop Blaire is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The prelate said the economy is «broken in fundamental ways.»

And he noted that «our faith gives us a particular way of looking at this broken economy. From the prophets of the Old Testament to the example of the early Church recorded in the New Testament, we learn that God cares for the poor and vulnerable, and he measures the faith of the community by the treatment of those on the margins of life. Jesus in his time on earth taught us about the dignity of work and said we would be judged by our response to ‘the least of these’ (Mt 25). 

«Christians need to study carefully what Jesus taught about the use of money and wealth, a spirit of stewardship and detachment, the search for justice and care for those in need, and the call to seek and serve the reign of God. Based on these scriptural values, our Church has focused on work, workers, and economic justice in a series of papal encyclicals beginning with Rerum Novarum.»

The document goes on to note the Church’s view on work, workers’ unions and solidarity with the poor.

«For Christians, it is not enough to acknowledge current difficulties.» Bishop Blaire reflected. «We are people of hope, committed to prayer, to help those facing hard time and to work with others to build a better economy. Our faith gives strength, direction and confidence in these tasks.»

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