Catholic Workers, Labor Unions, and Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate | Fr. George E. Schultze, SJ | CWR
Some Labor Day observations about the recent contract negotiations between the San Francisco Archdiocese and its unionized Catholic high school teachers
What is the responsibility of Catholic school teachers with regard to the spoken and lived representation of Catholic moral values? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate is a helpful point of departure for some Labor Day observations about the recent contract negotiations between the San Francisco Archdiocese and its unionized Catholic high school teachers. Let me preface this commentary by underscoring my own desire for Christian unity and the need for charity and truth to achieve it. Institutional structures—e.g., employee handbooks and collective bargaining agreements—require responsible institutional participants. This is the case in churches, businesses, government entities, unions, schools and, in a less formal case, families.
Caritas in Veritate means “charity in truth”; in effect, to believe that “God is Eternal Love” and “Absolute Truth” means that charity and truth are inexorably linked. Pope Benedict XVI teaches that we discover truth within the foundational awareness of charity, and charity can authentically occur only within the presence of truth. The Church must necessarily speak on social questions such as the right to life, the family, marriage, racism, immigration, and work life as part of its mission, and therefore the teaching of Catholic morality at its schools and other institutions will always address the lives of Catholics and all men and women of good will.
How do Catholics fully become the people God calls them to be? How do they help others to achieve that same end? Caritas in Veritate begins by stating, “Each person finds his good by adherence to God’s plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22)”. Catholics are taught that each person has a call and, while others may not believe in God, we recognize by our common humanity that every person has human dignity and a purpose in his or her life.
Truth and charity
In the first few paragraphs of Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI points out that unfortunately, in this era, “charity” has often lost its meaning because it is detached from God’s love, and truth has become relative for many men and women. Modernists—the intellectual pace setters for culture—mistakenly believe that love is what people decide it is based on their autonomous feelings, and that the only “truth” is one’s own ego and desires, or, in other words, the absence of objective truth.