It is always disconcerting to read about Catholics who do not know their church’s teaching regarding justice in the world (“Clerics Speak Out on Wal-Mart,” Oct. 30). Maybe the church’s bishops need to reevaluate how their teachings are communicated; or maybe the church’s members need to open their ears, eyes and hearts to what the church is saying to them. The Catholic voice in the discussion of justice in society is clear and strong.
Our teaching is based on God’s demand for justice as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is exemplified in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. It has been boldly delineated in modern times in the writings of the popes and bishops.
“Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.” So wrote our bishops at their World Synod in 1971. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter “Laborem Exercens” in 1981, wrote, “The Church considers it her duty to speak out on work from the viewpoint of its human value and of the moral order to which it belongs.”
The priests who spoke out on Wal-Mart and its effect on their community were speaking faithfully in the tradition of our church. Those Catholics who would deny priests their voice need to carefully study the teachings of the Catholic Church. Those citizens who would deny priests participation in discussions of public issues need to rethink their understanding of the nature of American democracy.
God bless Father Mike Gleeson, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in San Gabriel, for having the courage to rise up against the insidious, avaricious Wal-Mart corporation, which holds hegemony over American retail. I suspect opponents of Gleeson who claim the priest is crossing the line between state and religion have some personal gain in their opposition or have failed to think beyond the instant gratification of a discount via a super center in their neighborhood.
Gleeson has given us pause for thought, a pause that should include the little guy who too often gets gobbled up by a corporate regime. I suspect the same empire that feels the need to dress its employees in blue vests plastered with “How may I help you?” on the back, is not an employer that is likely to give its associates a voice and respect and wages to match. Every time a Wal-Mart moves in, along with the greed, a little bit of human dignity dies.