Today the US Conference of Catholic Bishops added its voice to those supporting the union rights of Wisconsin's public employees. Supporting the clear stand of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, a letter (by Bishop Stephen Blaire in his capacity as Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development), stated:
You and our brother bishops in Wisconsin are offering a timely reminder of what the Church teaches on the rights and duties of workers, including the right to form and belong to unions and other associations, and the obligation to address difficult problems with respect for the rights and needs of all. As you insist, “hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers....” The situation in Wisconsin is not unique. Other states and the federal government also face daunting challenges of growing budget deficits and how to allocate burdens and share sacrifice in ways that reflect principles of social justice, economic fairness and wise stewardship. Your efforts to share the consistent teaching of the Church in the midst of this controversy are an example for all of us on how to apply our moral principles to the “signs of the times.” Catholic teaching and your statement remind us these are not just political conflicts or economic choices; they are moral choices with enormous human dimensions. The debates over worker representation and collective bargaining are not simply matters of ideology or power, but involve principles of justice, participation and how workers can have a voice in the workplace and economy.
Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald - the two brothers who lead the two houses of the Wisconsin state legislature - pride themselves on their Catholic roots. How will they respond to the interventions of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and the USCCB?