September 7, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

On this Labor Day of 2015 we hear much about the plight of the middle class. The Onion, which is a blog and paper that enjoys spoofing the news, recently published an article stating that government, business, and community leaders are frustrated. They have run out of new options for fleecing the middle class!

As Americans we like to think we are a community. We are a mix of rich, poor, and in the middle. Alexander Hamilton believed the success of the United States depended upon how the nation harnessed the talents and money of financial elites for the benefit of the common good. Hamilton wanted to strike a fair balance by insuring financial elites had ample liberty to increase their wealth while expecting their money to contribute to the improvement of the nation.

What Hamilton advocated for society coincides with Jesus’ teachings about stewardship. Wealth is not to be isolated. Instead the Christian who is wealthy is called upon to exercise a ministry of giving. Just as obtaining wealth comes from the help of God and others, the sharing of treasure is a sign of appreciating God’s goodness and giving thanks for the people who assisted the person in creating wealth in the first place.

In the late 1800’s the Labor movement began organizing the lower classes of American society. The Unions worked within the capitalist system to improve the condition of workers. By the 1960’s most union members had joined the middle class. Today, the middle class is in decline. This is true for both union and non-union households. There are practical and spiritual remedies. New tax policies can help. Better and more innovative education will prepare young people to work amidst the challenges of an ever changing 21st century world economy. Finally, the Church can do more to proclaim the Gospel by emphasizing the value of community. God gives us liberty and expects responsibility in return. This means the genius of the individual is best celebrated in community. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,