Finds Common Ground in Labor, Concern for the Poor and Interreligious Actions
Photo Jeffrey Bruno/ALETEIA – (Creative Commons)
September 18, 2015 – New York, NY: Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement on the occasion of the impending visit of Pope Francis to the United States:
As an American organization that links the organized Jewish community and the organized labor movement, the Jewish Labor Committee joins in welcoming Pope Francis on his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis’ visit is a special occasion for many of us to note his heartfelt and deeply-rooted respect for working men and women, for the poor and for the plight of immigrants.
We find common ground in Pope Francis’s statement of last October that “[t]here is no worse material poverty than one that does not allow for earning one’s bread and deprives one of the dignity of work,” and his many pronouncements on the dignity and safety of workers. The Pope’s appeal this March, that solidarity and justice prevail, noting that “when people do not earn their bread, they lose their dignity” resonated with us, bringing to mind the Talmudic passage from Pirke Avot, 3:16, on the importance and interrelatedness of both spiritual and physical sustenance: “Without bread [literally, ‘flour’], there is no Torah; without Torah, there is no bread.”
His respect for and advocacy of the rights of workers, including the right to form and join unions, and secure decent remuneration and secure retirements, deserve wide applause from the larger community, and emulation by community leaders, religious and secular.
We also find both common ground and deep respect for the Pope’s connections to and solidarity with the Jewish people, in Argentina, in Rome, and in more general terms, from the spirit in which he has approached interreligious encounters and dialogue. We welcome his condemnation of anti-Semitism, his solidarity with the victims of the attack on the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, his leadership in Holocaust commemoration and education within Argentina, and his articulation of “the right of the State of Israel to exist and flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders” in May of last year.
The Pope’s concern for the poor, for the exploited, for those who cannot earn a decent wage to provide for their families, for immigrants, and, especially in this time, those desperate refugees trying to escape horrendous conditions in the Middle East and Africa are concerns that resonate with us deeply. We hope that his visit here will focus upon these pressing issues and thereby help lead to solutions.