Call To Action’s Catholic Church Worker Declaration
Call To Action is a mostly lay-led Catholic organization that draws its mission from the US Bishops’ 1976 Call To Action conference, held as a response to the challenge of the Second Vatican Council to “scrutinize the signs of the times” and respond in light of the Gospel. The organization gradually distanced itself from the Church hierarchy, especially as it took more progressive stances on issues such as LGBT+ equality in the Church.
At the 2015 Call To Action conference in Milwaukee, the organization released a declaration demanding that those who work for Catholic institutions be treated fairly, without fear of discrimination or unjust termination.
Catholic Church Worker Declaration
The Church is indebted to workers who have dedicated their lives to service in Catholic schools, dioceses, parishes, hospitals, and other Catholic organizations. Unfortunately, in recent years many Catholic workers have been unjustly terminated or deprived of fair contract renewals. These firings have typically targeted those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), those who are in relationships not recognized by the Church, those who support women’s equality in Church and society, and those who have made decisions about family life in the sacredness of their conscience. These unjust terminations are not only spiritually, emotionally, and financially devastating for the individual, but they also impact students, parishioners, family members, colleagues, and others, often diminishing their level of trust and respect for the Church. Church workers pour their hearts into service to the Church and must be respected with dignity; therefore:
We affirm Church teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers.
“If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected.” – USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, 1998
“All the moral principles that govern the just operation of any economic endeavor apply to the Church and its agencies and institutions; indeed the Church should be exemplary.” – USCCB, Economic Justice for All, 347
- We expect that dealings with Church workers be conducted with transparency and due process in accordance with canon and civil law. We expect dioceses to provide just and transparent arbitration for Church workers whose employment is terminated.
- We expect Church leaders to uphold non-discrimination policies and to treat all employees equitably, even if the employer is exempt from such laws.
We affirm Church teachings on the new evangelization.
“In [a bishop’s] mission of fostering a dynamic, open and missionary communion, he will have to encourage…pastoral dialogue, out of a desire to listen to everyone and not simply to those who would tell him what he would like to hear. The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion…. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach.” – Evangelii Gaudium, 31, 32, 63
- We expect Church leaders to treat all Church workers with respect and dignity, to actively create and ensure opportunities for dialogue with workers, and to always prioritize a pastoral approach even if this precludes an opportunity to catechize the individual.
We affirm Church teachings on the primacy of conscience.
“Man [sic] has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience….The education of the conscience is a lifelong task.” – Catechism, 1782, 1784
- We expect Church leaders to respect the primacy of conscience—to enter into dialogue with Church workers and listen to them speak about the voice of God echoing in their hearts.
- We expect Church leaders to acknowledge that people are capable of forming virtuous consciences with the guidance of Holy Spirit.
Above all else, we affirm the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed, which once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.” – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 22
- We expect Church leaders to be guided by the Gospel and the continued inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality. And this is particularly true of the Church’s social doctrine, the light of which is Truth, Justice its objective, and Love its driving force.” –Mater et Magistra, 226
We invite all Catholics to join us in cultivating Catholic workplaces (hospitals, schools, parishes, diocesan offices, affiliated organizations) where Truth is the guide, Justice the end, and Love the guiding force. As people of faith, we believe this is possible.