Bishop Kevin Manning defends unions

posted 16 Aug 2010, 19:28 by Stefan Gigacz
I was initially taken aback, some years ago, when an elderly Catholic unionist in Lithgow stated: “I learnt my practical Christianity through the union, for the union cared more for the poor and vulnerable than many Church organisations.”

And there was truth in what he said, for initially unions saw themselves as protecting the poor and vulnerable workers, those seeking work, immigrants and those suffering because of war and disorder in their own countries.
Because workers’ rights, like all rights, are based on the nature of the human person and on his transcendent dignity, the Catholic Church was never reticent to list these rights in the hope they would be recognised in juridical systems. 

In so doing, the Church recognised the fundamental role played by labour unions which “grew up from the struggle of the workers – workers in general but especially the industrial workers – to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production.” (Laborem Exercens, 20)

In her teaching the Church insists that unions are not a reflection of the “class” structure of society but should be promoters of the struggle for social justice, for the rights of workers.

- Emeritus Bishop of Parramatta Kevin Manning, who was also a YCW chaplain as a priest