Pope Francis’ glaring omission: Why spiritual leaders must champion workers’ rights

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In a daily mass last month, Pope Francis spoke of joy as a major aspect of Christian identity. “It’s the style of a Christian,” he said, quoting St. Augustine, “‘Go, go forward, singing and walking!’” True enough. All of us, religious or not, could benefit from a bigger bounce in our steps.

The Rev. Michael Livingston, public policy director at Interfaith Worker Justice, a non-profit that seeks to unite people of diverse faiths in the pursuit of worker concerns, agrees that a significant chunk of the big picture is missing. “It isn’t just wages stolen, no paid sick days, no paid vacation days,” he says. Working conditions in a broad sense “put a tremendous strain on the humanity and dignity and self-worth, which is all wrapped up in the spiritual life of the worker. It’s a failure to see the worker as a human being and a spiritual being.”

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