Thursday, September 19, 2013

Get with the New (Old) Program

This morning I heard about Pope Francis's interview with America magazine. In it, he said the Catholic Church should focus less on prohibitions on abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage, and, by implication, leave more time and attention for what he sees as the core issues: poverty and social justice.

An hour later I read this story about an 83-year-old adjunct professor at Duquesne University, a Catholic institution. After 25 years as an adjunct, paid the equivalent of $12 an hour for full-time work with no health care coverage or retirement funds, French professor Margaret Mary Vojtko died of a heart attack while in the midst of cancer treatments.

The writer, a lawyer who was trying to get Vojtko's job reinstated, wrote:

Duquesne knew all about Margaret Mary's plight, for I apprised them of it in two letters. I never received a reply, and Margaret Mary was forced to die saddened, penniless and on the verge of being turned over to Orphan's Court.
He also wrote:
While adjuncts at Duquesne overwhelmingly voted to join the United Steelworkers union a year ago, Duquesne has fought unionization, claiming that it should have a religious exemption. Duquesne has claimed that the unionization of adjuncts like Margaret Mary would somehow interfere with its mission to inculcate Catholic values among its students.

This would be news to Georgetown University -- one of only two Catholic universities to make U.S. News & World Report's list of top 25 universities -- which just recognized its adjunct professors' union, citing the Catholic Church's social justice teachings, which favor labor unions.
This sounds like the clash between Paul Ryan and his audience at Georgetown, or Ryan's encounter at a Congressional hearing with Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus.

Pope Francis is making it clear which side he's on. I wonder how long it will take Catholic institutions like Duquesne to get with the new (old) program?

Thanks to Michael Leddy at Orange Crate Art for the link to Margaret Mary Vojtko's incredibly sad and disturbing story.

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