Political Animal


May 01, 2013 4:22 PM Francis’ May Day Homily

By Ed Kilgore

Privately and publicly, Pope Francis went out of his way today to express solidarity with disempowered workers. At a private mass to commemorate May Day (or more specifically, the parallel Feast of St. Joseph the Worker), Pope Francis referred to the victims of the Bangladesh factory explosion as part of a system of “slave labor:”

“How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!” he said, as protesters in May Day demonstrations around the world rallied against unfair work conditions and unemployment.
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!” the pope said in his strongly-worded address.
The 76-year-old later spoke to thousands of followers in St Peter’s Square, urging politicians to fight unemployment and calling for greater “social justice” against “selfish profit”.
“I call on politicians to make every effort to relaunch the labour market,” he said in his traditional weekly address.

Some of you may recall an incident back in 2010 when Glenn Beck told listeners to leave their churches or denominations if they heard any talk about “social justice,” which he identifies as a code word for “Communist” or “Nazi” teachings. While there’s nothing novel about Francis’ basic argument, which reflects well over a century of Catholic teaching, its prominence and tone must send all sorts of Tea Party Christians right over the edge.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • gelfling545 on May 01, 2013 4:48 PM:

    The US bishops must be getting the vapors over this kind of talk. The GOP won't want to bffs with them anymore if this keeps up.

  • efgoldman on May 01, 2013 5:04 PM:

    Pope Francis referred to the victims of the Bangladesh factory explosion as part of a system of “slave labor:” And how many of the factory owners and corrupt officials in Bangladesh are xtions, or even know or care what the pope says?
    To repurpose a very famous quotation: How man building inspectors does the pope have?

  • Jerry O'Brien on May 01, 2013 5:50 PM:

    Good for the pope. Pointing out the most horrific examples of worker mistreatment, wherever they might be, is fitting for any person with a global audience.

    You don't have to be a Bangladeshi to be concerned about workers' conditions there, and you don't have to be a Christian to be interested in what Christian leaders say about social justice.

    By the way, Wikipedia says there are 300,000 Roman Catholics in Bangladesh. Who knows, some of them might own factories.

  • C. P. Zilliacus on May 01, 2013 7:23 PM:

    Wonder what Rick Santorum has to say about this?

  • Kathryn on May 01, 2013 7:26 PM:

    Seem to remember the owners of the factory have been arrested. What that actually means in Bagladesh, I don't know. How about some words on unsafe work places and lack of regulation while you're at it Pope Francis but, regardless, I suspect our home grown pope Rick Santorum not likely.

  • Joan Ruskamp on May 01, 2013 7:53 PM:

    It seems some of you are jumping to the conclusion that if we are Republican we are against social justice. While policies from both parties leave much to be desired it will always go back to the basics of respect for the dignity of human life. The recent news that abortions on demand are leading to infanticide should have us all shudder especially when the president asks for God's blessing on the organization behind that activity. God bless Pope Francis!

  • Doug on May 01, 2013 8:15 PM:

    Joan Ruskamp, Gosnall was in no way associated with Planned Parenthood and *if* you didn't know that you should have.
    By the way, you do know that, should fanatically big-government types such as yourself ever make abortions completely illegal, operations such as Gosnall's will become the norm?
    Well, except for those who have enough money...

  • Mimikatz on May 01, 2013 10:56 PM:

    Joan, the answer to butchers like Gosnell is safe, legal, readily available contraception and early term abortion. Preferably publicly funded, so women who don't want to carry a child to term can resolve the issue early. If you think that is infanticide then I suggest you agitate for higher wages for women workers, more government funded child care and more available health care, including reproductive health care, so working women have an easier time. Turning your back on children once they are born and weeping over the fate only of the pure "pre-born" fetuses is hypocritical at best and downright cruel at worst.

  • Bandsting on May 02, 2013 9:45 AM:

    Contraception, there is the word those rightwing fertility worshipers do not want to talk about. They and the pope want to take away your right to contraception.