As A kid I would visit my paternal grandparents just about every Sunday at the Parsippany, New Jersey house that he built with his own two hands in the 1950s. (OK, he had help from his teenage kids and extended family members who “came up” for the weekend from South Orange and the surrounding neighborhoods). We would arrive sometime after mass, have a huge meal, and retire to the living room where the adults would (usually) argue about politics while the television set blared the Giants, Jets, Mets, or Yankees.
I would sometimes listen to my grandfather pontificate about the politics of the “working man.” He usually used this phrase to describe ethnic white immigrants and their children who were members of a Union (he was a Teamster), who benefited from FDR’s New Deal, and were faithful Catholics. As I look back on all of this, it was sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between the Democratic Party and the American Catholic Church.
Here is a taste of Gehrig’s piece:
As unions face an increasingly hostile political climate and grapple with fresh approaches to becoming relevant to a new generation, there are signs that an old ally is once again stepping up. The Catholic Church, which has an imperfect but long history of using its institutional muscle and moral voice to defend workers’ rights, is getting a serious pep talk from a pope who has put labor rights back at the forefront of the Church’s public agenda.
Unions are “prophetic” institutions that “unmask the powerful who trample the rights of the most vulnerable workers,” Pope Francis said in a June speech to the Confederation of Trade Unions, Italy’s equivalent of the AFL-CIO. While conservative politicians, corporate leaders, and well-funded organizations on the right have spent decades trying to dismantle the labor movement, Francis recognizes that what he calls the “dictatorship of an impersonal economy” is the result of an ideology that demonizes unions, worships individualism, and champions unfettered markets. “The capitalism of our time does not understand the value of the trade union because it has forgotten the social nature of the economy,” he said. “This is one of the greatest sins.”
Read the entire piece here.