'Raise Federal Minimum Wage,' Catholic Bishops Urge Congress

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. bishops called
 for an increase in the federal minimum wage in a Jan. 8 letter to Congress.
     "The minimum wage needs to be raised not just for the goods and
 services a person can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it
 affords," said the letter signed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, chairman of
 the bishops' Domestic Policy Committee.
     Bishop DiMarzio said that the bishops as pastors see many working
 people who need realistic salaries.
     "We serve too many families where men and women work full-time and
 still live in destitution," Bishop DiMarzio said. "Congress needs to make
 budget and policy choices that will ensure adequate funding to help
 families escape joblessness, move beyond welfare, choose decent education
 for their children, gain needed health care coverage, and overcome hunger
 and homelessness."
     The entire letter follows:
     The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has long sought a
 raise in the minimum wage. As pastors, bishops see the tragic human and
 social consequences on individuals, their families, and society when
 workers cannot support themselves and their families by their own labor.
 The current minimum wage is still just $5.15 an hour, which is $10,700 a
 year for a full-time worker -- nearly $6,000 below the poverty level for a
 family of three. The minimum wage needs to be raised not just for the goods
 and services a person can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it
 affords. We urge you to support H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.
     Work has a special place in Catholic social thought. Work is more than
 just a job; it is a reflection of human dignity and a way to contribute to
 the common good. Most importantly, it is the ordinary way people meet their
 material needs and community obligations. In Catholic teaching, the
 principle of a just wage is integral to our understanding of human work.
 Wages must be adequate for workers to provide for themselves and their
 families in dignity. The United States bishops' Conference has supported
 the minimum wage since its inception as a just means to protect the human
 rights and dignity of workers.
     Raising the minimum wage is only one step needed to address the larger,
 more pressing problem of poverty in America. In our shelters and soup
 kitchens, in our parishes and schools, we see working families who can't
 make ends meet. We serve too many families where men and women work full
 time and still live in destitution. Congress needs to make budget and
 policy choices that will ensure adequate funding to help families escape
 joblessness, move beyond welfare, choose decent education for their
 children, gain needed health care coverage, and overcome hunger and
 homelessness. Our nation needs a persistent and determined effort to
 overcome poverty. We hope you will work together across partisan and
 ideological lines to shape a comprehensive strategy and common commitment
 to lift all of our brothers and sisters out of poverty.
     In his Encyclical, "God is Love," Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that:
 "The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of
 politics ... Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all
 politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of
 public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its
 very nature has to do with ethics. The State must inevitably face the
 question of how justice can be achieved here and now." (# 28)
     We renew our support for an increase in the minimum wage. For us, it is
 a matter of simple justice for a decent society.
 
 

SOURCE United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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