Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Pope Welcomes Machinists Union
Machinists Union Leaders Received by the Holy Father, Discuss Church/Labor Strategies to Advance Social Justice
International Association of Machinists (AFL-CIO) President Tom Buffenbarger discusses the bond between the labor movement and the Catholic Church with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome.
The labor movement and the Catholic Church have long held shared goals of equality and opportunity. Each Labor Day, Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) and the AFL-CIO sponsor the Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar program, which highlights these shared goals.
With the long-standing ties between labor and the Catholic Church, a delegation of IAM leaders from the United States and Canada met recently with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome.
In addition to the audience granted to the IAM delegation, the pope met privately with IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, where they discussed the concern that some Catholic bishops are not as supportive of the labor movement as the bishops once were.
The Catholic Church has a long history of inspiring and supporting labor, civil and human rights campaigns, from the pro-labor encyclical “Rerum Novarum” issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, to the activities of Dorothy Day, John Cort, George G. Higgins and hundreds of priests and bishops who marched with U.S. civil rights activists. The Church teaches that labor unions are an indispensable part of a just society.
Says President Buffenbarger:
For many years, the Catholic Church and the North American Labor Movement worked closely to promote a better life for their respective congregations. That alliance was an essential ingredient to the success of many social justice initiatives in the past and can provide the foundation for similar achievements in the future.
The recent meeting between Benedict XVI and Buffenbarger follows in the footsteps of a 1985 meeting between Pope John Paul II and former IAM President William Winpisinger. Both men supported Poland’s Solidarity trade union movement, which was a major factor in that country’s peaceful transition to democracy and the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union.