Two New Stories

Just posted to the website, Robert Mickens's Letter from Rome—from Washington, D.C.. He reports on how the American media has responded so far to the pope's arrival in the capital (something "to be welcomed"), and how Cardinal Timothy Dolan anticipates the pope will respond to the $177 million restorations made to St. Patrick's cathedral when he arrives in New York Thursday:

“He’s going to drive up to it, and I hope he’s going to say, like more and more New Yorkers are saying, ‘Wow,’ when he sees the splendor and the radiance of this magnificent structure,” said the gregarious cardinal.

Mickens also points out an ideological shift in political criticism of Francis: from a fear that the pontiff would be too conservative at the onset of his papacy to the fear now he may be a Marxist. What does the pope think?

On his plane from Havana to Washington on Tuesday, Francis said: “Maybe there’s an impression I’m a little bit more leftie, but I haven’t said a single thing that’s not in the social doctrine of the church.”

Read the entire Letter from Rome here. And catch up on previous dispatches here.

Also on the website, the editors write on why American workers should be relieved to see Scott Walker, who is notorious for his vicious campaign against unions in his home state of Wisconsin, drop out of the GOP presidential race:

Empowering people, in Walker’s view, would mean abolishing the National Labor Relations Board, rewriting federal law to make Right to Work “the default position for all private, state, and public-sector workers,” replacing overtime pay with unpaid time off, and stripping employees of their ability to bargain collectively.

But voters shouldn't be relaxed. Walker's plan didn't die with his candidacy; its spirit is very much alive among many in the GOP. And so it's important to take seriously the findings of Harvard economists Richard B. Freedman and James L. Medoff: organized labor served as a positive force in the American economy in the twentieth century, and “a society genuinely concerned about increasing productivity would encourage, not disparage, a strong labor movement.” In other words:

Productivity and the dignity of workers can and often do go hand in hand. Given what has transpired in the past thirty years, those genuinely concerned about the nation’s economic health would now seem obligated to encourage a strong labor movement. Support for such a position is grounded in Catholic social teaching beginning with Rerum novarum (1891), in which Pope Leo XIII both declared the moral necessity of doing one’s job responsibly with an eye toward the common good, and insisted on the right of workers to form unions to protect their interests.

Read the full editorial here. And see past editorials, as well as other words by the editors, here.

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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