August 7, 2015

Be Our Guest / Patty Wallace

Pax Christi Indianapolis is eager to make living and just wage a priority in Indiana

Pax Christi Indianapolis is engaged in the effort to create a living and just wage for all workers in Indiana.

Thirty-seven percent of Hoosiers are struggling to support themselves.

Forty-nine percent of Hoosier direct-care givers and 45 percent of fast-food workers have to rely on some form of public assistance.

Just wages for workers has been a Catholic priority since 1906 when Msgr. John Ryan, a pioneer in social justice advocacy and theory for the Church, insisted that all people have the right to a living wage, adequate to support themselves and their families. In his 1891 encyclical, “Rerum Novarum,” Pope Leo XIII defined fair wages as at least a living wage.

Pope Francis said in a speech in July, “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the Earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment” (The New York Times, July 11, 2015).

Closer to home, the Catholic bishops of Indiana pointed out in their recent pastoral, Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana, that St. John Paul II taught us, “A just wage is the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system.”

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin stated in his weekly column in the July 10 edition of The Criterion, “Just wages and the meaning of work itself must all be seen with new eyes.” Indiana’s working poor deserve a living wage in order to buy groceries, medicine, transportation to and from work, housing, child care, and to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.

We invite you to join us at our next Pax Christi Indianapolis meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug.16 in Oldenburg Hall (formerly St. Francis Hall), Room 163, at Marian University in Indianapolis. We will be hosting Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, in a conversation about making this a priority issue in the coming legislative session.

(Patty Wallace of Pax Christi Indianapolis is a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.)

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