Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is calling for a living wage, saying the minimum wage is too low:
New Yorkers are now thoughtfully considering a proposal from Gov. Cuomo to raise the minimum wage. When I contemplate issues like this, my thoughts often turn to my visits to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. One place I make it a point to visit is the tomb of Pope Leo XIII, who taught back in 1891 that every worker deserves a “living wage,” which he defined as one which allows the worker to care for his or her family in “reasonable and frugal comfort,” tending to their home, education and health.
Then I’ll stop in front of the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II, who wrote in 1991 that work was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, the end being the dignity of the worker, the sacredness of life and the ability of the laborer to provide the basics for a spouse and children.
I always go to the side altar of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, himself a carpenter, who raised Jesus in a workshop with a sense of the dignity of labor. And, of course, the high altar, over the tomb of St. Peter, where Pope Francis celebrates Mass. As we saw so clearly during his visit to New York last September, the Pope has become the planet’s most eloquent advocate for the rights of the struggling and poor….
We can all agree that a minimum wage is valuable protection for laborers, and that the current level is too low. We can also find common ground in recalling that our workers not only deserve a living wage, but also benefits to help with health insurance, pensions, sick leave and vacation.