“Now, I’m a Union Man”? – Catholic social teaching and trade unions

Stikes

The band “The Strawbs”, perhaps most famous for “Now, I’m a Union Man”, was formed at St. Mary’s before it was a university (they were originally called “The Strawberry Hill Boys”). The lyrics of that song, don’t really accord with Catholic social teaching on unions (“I say what I think, that the company stinks”…”With a hell of a shout, it’s ‘Out brothers, out!’ And the rise of the factory’s fall”…“And I always get my way If I strike for higher pay”…), but it is a good song and forms an interesting preface to an article on Catholic social teaching and trade unions.

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Listening to faith communities – lessons for Labour

Interfaith

Listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury speak on ‘reconciliation’ the other day at Digby Stuart College, I was reminded of my time working as the first ever faith advisor appointed at Cabinet level in the UK. While the current Archbishop had worked out a series of steps by which to address reconciliation in a variety of contexts, back then the argument was who best, and how best, for faith voices to be heard or engaged by government as a prelude to building up social harmony and collaboration in UK society. The whole approach was, for a while, qualified by long lists of ‘who not to talk to’ even if they were going to be key to the future.

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No-one is born a slave

What is modern slavery? The UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act into legislation in England and Wales in 2015, partly in response to the growing referrals of suspected cases into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The Act defines slavery as servitude and forced or compulsory labour. This incorporates a broad range of situations, including forced criminality; sexual exploitation; removal of organs; and securing services by force, threat or abuse, including from children and vulnerable people.

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Pope Francis and lobbying – a new theme in Catholic social teaching?

Following the recent post on this blog about corruption, we thought we would follow up by one on the related theme of lobbying.

The subject of lobbying has had very little sustained treatment in Catholic social teaching, though Pope Francis has started to address the question. If anything, Catholic writers tend to regard lobbying in a rather positive way. And there is no doubt that lobbying has its positive dimensions, for example where Christian organisations are lobbying on behalf of the oppressed.

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The Call of Creation

October 4th was the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists and animals. The day brought to an end the season the Catholic Church describes as “The Season of Creation”. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also chose that day to launch a considerably revised, new edition of its teaching document on the environment – The Call of Creation.

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Building global bridges rather than national walls

It can be argued that there should be a natural empathy amongst Catholics for globalisation. The Catholic Church desires to take the faith to the ends of the earth. Given this, why should commercial and cultural relationships not extend across borders too? Furthermore, it could be asked whether the hostility to foreigners or instinct for self-preservation (even if misguided) which often accompanies protectionism is a healthy way to conduct political, civil and economic relationships. Pope Francis, for example, has exhorted President Trump to build “bridges rather than walls”, referring to the former US president’s desire to reduce migration from Mexico using physical constraints.

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Social justice – is there a conflict between Hayek’s liberalism and Catholic social thought?

Hayek

The term “social justice” leads to a lot of sabre rattling in Catholic social teaching circles. Greater attention to its meaning, including to some of the ambiguities about its meaning, might be helpful in promoting more fruitful discussion. Debates are often clouded by bringing F. A. Hayek’s disdain for the whole idea of social justice into the discussion. Supporters of a free economy, in the spirit of Hayek’s work, are therefore pitted against supporters of social justice in Catholic social thought. Constructive dialogue is impeded.

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The elderly – the roots of our society

Every year on the third Sunday of June, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales invites people to celebrate a Day for Life. Its primary purpose, as outlined by St John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, is “to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church and in civil society a recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition”. Building on last year’s theme of “care at the end of life”, this year, the bishops are inviting the faithful to reflect on protecting and valuing old age.

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