CCCB offers message on Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, reflecting on hardships caused by COVID-19

St. Joseph the Carpenter by Georges de La Tour (circa 1645) - public domain.

Catholic Saskatoon News

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published a message to mark the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, 2021.

CCCB Message for the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker May 1, 2021 – English / French

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955 to celebrate Joseph, the patron saint of workers on the first day of May each year.

The message from the CCCB noted that Catholic social teaching identifies work as “a human right that enhances dignity, sustains families, and contributes to the common good of society.”

In particular, the bishops addressed the difficult situation many are faced with, especially during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Canadians have become acutely aware that despite labour laws that protect workers, there remain many inequities and indeed numerous difficult working conditions for many of our brothers and sisters,” acknowledges the message.

“We find this particularly prevalent among those deemed ‘essential workers,’ such as grocery store clerks, restaurant workers, factory employees, distribution centre workers, gas station operators, health care workers, educators, and migrants who labour in the farming industry – to name only a few,” lists the bishops’ message.

These “essential workers” do not have the option to work from home, and many do not have access to paid sick leave or other benefits, notes the message.

“Collectively, we must heed Pope Francis’ call to “review our priorities” and advocate for justice for all workers, especially those identified as essential. Work is essential for the life of an individual and of the community.”

Another “sobering effect” of the COVID-19 pandemic is rising unemployment, especially for women and youth, continues the CCCB letter.

The CCCB message concludes: “As we continue to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph, we are reminded of the words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, where he writes: ‘Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work. The loss of employment that affects so many of our brothers and sisters, and has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, should serve as a summons to review our priorities. Let us implore Saint Joseph the Worker to help us find ways to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!'”