WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ domestic policy committee said the nation has “urgent work” to do to show “radical solidarity with working families” and provide ongoing support for the well-being of all families.
“There are signs of improvement and concern regarding the economy,” Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia said in an Aug. 30 statement the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued in advance of Labor Day on Sept. 4.
Despite positive economic indicators of low unemployment, slowing inflation and new jobs being added, “more families feel like they are worse off today than the year before,” he said, citing a Federal Reserve report.
“There is still urgent work needed to exercise radical solidarity with mothers, children, and families,” said the archbishop, who is the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Let us pray and act towards this end, always listening to the Lord who fulfills glad tidings in our hearing his word each day.”
Archbishop Gudziak also said “the essential role labor unions can and often do play in society must be acknowledged and affirmed,” and added that unions should “continue to be supported in their work that supports healthy, thriving families, especially those who are most in need.”
The archbishop highlighted the needs American families are facing in today’s economy.
“The percentage of Americans who cannot afford an unexpected $400 expense has increased to 37%. While price increases are not as steep as they once were, grocery prices have still risen nearly 5% over the last year,” he said, pointing to other statistics, including that three out of 10 mothers report “there have been times in the past year when they could not buy food.”
“We are called to join Jesus in His ministry to bring glad tidings to the poor. We must do more to support families,” he said, noting that last October, the chairmen of several U.S. bishops’ committees called on Congress to show a “radical solidarity” with mothers, children and families in a post-Roe world.
Archbishop Gudziak pointed to laws Congress enacted at the end of last year that support families. But Congress should strengthen the Child Tax Credit, he said. Congress allowed the measure to expire at the end of 2021, with the consequence that 3.7 million children slipped back into poverty, with Black and Latino families experiencing the biggest impact, according to Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
Archbishop Gudziak also called for “national support for paid family leave,” emphasizing it is “pro-life to support families,” and he said there needed to be “better access to affordable, quality child care and pre-kindergarten, which also ensures just wages for child care workers and teachers.”
“It is good that bipartisan discussions are happening right now around all of these issues,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “Congress should take prompt action in all of these areas to protect the well-being of mothers, children, and their families.”
But he added, “Public policy changes are not the only way we can help families thrive.”
He said, “communities can organize to call attention to the problems facing families and to bring about solutions,” adding that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program, “supports this work and is a great help to families that are struggling.”
The archbishop’s Labor Day statement can be found at www.usccb.org/resources/labor-day-statement-2023