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Catholic scholars say those who thwart labor unions commit mortal sin:

A group of Catholic scholars contends that management efforts to break labor unions are a grave breech of the church’s social doctrine and tantamount to committing mortal sin.

A statement from Weymouth, Mass.-based Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, released May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, offers a detailed argument that actions to thwart union organizing campaigns, stifle contract talks, unilaterally roll back wages and benefits, and break existing labor agreements are a “grave violation of Catholic social doctrine on labor unions.”

“This violation of Catholic doctrine constitutes material grounds for mortal sin because it stands in grave violation of both the letter and spirit of Catholic social doctrine,” said the document, titled “Union Busting Is a Mortal Sin.”

In laying out their argument, the scholars said efforts to deny workers the right to organize violate the First, Fifth and Seventh commandments regarding idolatry, scandal and theft, respectively.

The scandal and theft seem plausible, but I’m unclear on how union busting violates the commandment against idolatry.

This reminds me of the question I asked last summer about whether social encyclicals are binding on Catholics . Stephen Barr provided an enlightening post on the subject :

In an encyclical—any encyclical—one finds statements of various levels of authority. It is not a simple question of whether “an encyclical is binding”. It is vaguely analogous to a decision of the Supreme Court. The holding of the Court is binding, but not everything written in the majority opinion(s) is equally authoritative.

In a social encyclical, one finds statements of general principles. These are the most authoritative. One also finds various analyses of particular political, economic, and social situations. These usually involve judgments of a prudential sort that are not binding in either the de fide or authoritative sense. They still merit respectful attention, as coming from the supreme earthly shepherd of the Church.

(Via: Acton Institute Powerblog )

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