Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 17 • APR 28 - MAY 04, 2018

01 Cover

posted Apr 25, 2018, 9:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 9:28 AM ]

03 Index

posted Apr 25, 2018, 9:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 9:27 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Apr 25, 2018, 9:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 9:25 AM ]

05 Editorial - Workers’ Apostolate – the Need of the Hour

posted Apr 25, 2018, 9:17 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 9:19 AM ]

May Day is celebrated across the world to honour the dignity of labour. It stems from the efforts of the Labour Union Movement to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Pope Francis, in a letter at the conclusion of a conference on Labour in 2017, added "Work is about more than just doing something for money, but about cooperating with Christ's work of redemption in how we care for others and the earth."

"According to Christian tradition, (work) is more than mere doing; it is, above all, a mission," the Pope said last November."We collaborate with the creative work of God when, through our work, we cultivate and preserve Creation; we participate, in the Spirit of Jesus, in His redemptive mission, when by our activity, we give sustenance to our families and respond to the needs of our neighbour."

We are dedicating this issue of The Examiner to the Workers who form a major group in our society. We are called to recognise the dignity of the worker. There is dignity in work. Through work, human beings participate in Creation, and help realise God's plan on earth. Work honours the gifts and talents that God has given to each one of us. Work is 'for the worker, and not the worker for work.' (Laborem Exercens - 'On Human Work', Pope John Paul II, 1981, #6)

The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate, and all workers must be paid a wage sufficient to support themselves and their families.

The Church teaches [Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher), Pope John XXII, 1961, #71; Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 2433-2435] that workers have certain rights, including:

Just wages which provide them the means to live a human life and care for their family; The right to gainful employment; Freedom from unjust discrimination; Freedom to join unions and to strike when it is necessary.

Other factors too enter into the assessment of a just wage: namely, the effective contribution which each individual makes to the economic effort, the financial state of the company for which he works, the requirements of the general good of the particular country, and finally the requirements of the common good of the universal family of nations.

We consider it our duty to reaffirm that the remuneration of work is not something that can be left to the laws of the marketplace; nor should it be a decision left to the will of the more powerful. It must be determined in accordance with justice and equity; which means that workers must be paid a wage which allows them to live a truly human life and to fulfil their family obligations in a worthy manner. (Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II, 1981, #15)

So what does this mean for us today?

The teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the dignity of the worker has many implications for us in the present. Below are some examples:

Paying employees a just wage; Providing employees with a safe working environment; Working to end unjust discrimination; Working to end forced labour; Changing our buying habits to support companies that treat workers fairly.

We can each do our part to respect the dignity of work and the worker, through our hiring and employment practices, through advocacy for better working conditions, just wages and for an end to unjust discrimination, and through our daily purchase decisions.

We must consequently continue to study the situation of the worker. There is a need for solidarity movements among, and with, the workers. The Church must firmly be committed to this cause, in fidelity to Christ, and to be truly the "Church of the poor".

Bishop Allwyn D'Silva is an Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, in charge of the Social Apostolate.

06 MARY – Our Constant Guide - Marcellus D’Souza

posted Apr 25, 2018, 9:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 9:13 AM ]

The month of May is when there is special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Rosaries are recited, hymns like 'Let us Mingle together' and other Marian hymns are sung.

Community rosaries bring us together. It is an opportunity for fellowship and bonding, especially today, when the community is in need of each other, given the precarious times we live in. It is a moment when we can share our common concerns, share our moments of joy and sorrow. The Grotto of Our Lady is the magnet that pulls us all towards it. We forget our differences and pains.

The Magnificat is a song of victory that talks about the emancipation of the labour class. Mary is a model for workers who fight for their rights in a culture of exploitation and oppression of the downtrodden and the working class. We repose our faith in the Mother of Our Lord, knowing well that she is more efficient than WhatsApp to carry our message to Her Son Jesus. As we contemplate each bead of each decade of the rosary, we not only focus on the mysteries of Christ through the eyes of Mary, but also send up our plea as well as our thanks for what we require and what we have received from the Lord.

Our Lady is a benevolent Mother. She knows our every need and our every petition. She has the motivational drive to move heaven and intercede on our behalf. The devotion that Saint John Paul had for Mary was infectious, to say the least. No wonder Pope Francis is a great devotee of the helping hand that Mary holds out for all those who call on her name. If we introspect, we will realise how many times we have called on Mary, perhaps on several occasions, such as prior to an examination, surgery, a job interview, or while crossing a road or making our way through never ending traffic, and she has never disappointed us. As Catholics, we have put our faith in our Lady and have never had an opportunity to complain. The number of Thanksgiving testimonies that appear in the 'Madonna' published by Don Bosco, Matunga amaze and strengthen the faith of the devotee..


07 Pastoral Concerns in The Workers’ Apostolate - Fr Felix D’Souza

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:48 AM ]

Brief History:

"The Church has lost the workers" was a phrase very much in use when the Industrial Revolution took the workers by storm. The workers, caught up in the struggle of job insecurity, unemployment and deplorable working conditions looked up to the Church for guidance. The Colonial economy during the 19th century further uprooted many workers from the rural setting. Low wages, employment of women and children for hazardous work, unchecked exploitation were some components of the workers' plight. In the face of such rampant degradation of workers, the Church, while sensitive to the hardship of the workers, was a passive, helpless spectator, except for the fact of organising certain welfare programmes. When Trade Unions emerged, the Church viewed this leadership with suspicion, because of the materialistic and atheistic ideologies of Trade Unions.

Papal Encyclicals:

A breakthrough in the Church's attitude towards the workers took place with the promulgation of Pope Leo XIII's social encyclical (papal letter) titled Rerum Novarum (1891). Subsequently, Msgr Cardijn (later Cardinal Cardijn) started the workers' movements in order to help workers understand their special role in building up God's kingdom. The spirituality of work, and it being a collaboration with God, having a redeeming factor, were some of the concepts that became part of the Church's vocabulary in developing the workers' apostolate. Thereafter came encyclicals of Popes, especially of Pope John Paul II (Laborem Exercens and Centesimus Annus) once again reiterating the importance of the Church's need to respond to the workers' scenario in the world.


08 A 21st century work ethic - Adrian Rosario

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:46 AM ]

The origin of Workers' Day

During the early years of the Industrial Age (post the Industrial Revolution), men would work in factories and workshops for 14-18 hours per day. The foremen (precursors of modern day supervisors) would ensure mass production in these sweatshops, where one understood the meaning of the term "blood, sweat and tears"! The struggle of the workers for an 'eight-hour workday' culminated in a Chicago demonstration on May 1, 1886; the story goes that the police opened fire on the demonstrators, thinking they would be dispersed easily. But one can be pushed to the limits only so much; that day, the protestors continued to march. One of them dipped his shirt in the blood flowing in the gutters, and holding the reddened shirt aloft, he encouraged the others to keep marching for their rights! That was how the red flag made its debut – the symbol of workers' struggle for their rights! Since then, May 1 has been celebrated as International Workers' Day. The Church has also acknowledged this by honouring St Joseph as the patron Saint of workers on May 1.

The situation of workers today

It is 2018, and the modern-day sweatshops where people work 12-16 hours a day are alive and well! Some work in AC comfort with a plethora of benefits, and they justify their long working hours to themselves (and others) in a variety of ways: "It's the norm nowadays; everyone does it!", "My boss will notice me working hard, and I shall get my increment/promotion", "My work is very important", "I am indispensable" and so on.

There may be others who work in sweatshops where they have no benefits; where they work in conditions resembling slavery. There are people who work in 'organisations' for Rs 800/- to Rs 1500/- per month; some even in so-called NGOs.


10 Movements related to workers - Fr John Almeida

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:44 AM ]

The early Church was known as the 'Sect of the Nazarenes' (Acts 24:5), and even as the 'Followers of the Way' (Acts 9:2). This was the early beginnings long before the gigantic institution of the Church came to be as we have it today. So it is with most beginnings; the start is small, triggered by new shoots breaking ground to infuse life and fresh breath into an existing 'drab' and 'decaying' scenario.

Restricting ourselves to Church- related circles, Joseph Cardinal Cardijn (November 13, 1882 – July 24, 1967), with his finger on the pulse of his diocese, and in tune with the youth under his pastoral care, realised that they (youth) needed to be catered to in a special way. People, then working in the mines and mills, felt that the Church had neglected them. The working class was the most affected. World War I and its aftermath made things worse. Cardijn knew he had to reach out to his people, especially the weakest section of them. In 1919, he started the 'Young Trade Unionists' which in 1924, was changed to 'Young Christian Workers' (YCW) and further, those in the upper age bracket were known as 'Christian Workers Movement' (CWM).


11 Creating space for Domestic Workers

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:42 AM ]

Married at 20, Mary was widowed at 22, with a year-old daughter to look after. Rejected by her in-laws, she went to live with her mother, where too she was ill-treated by her brothers and their wives. Finally, after about four years of hardship, in desperation, she took the offer of a job as a domestic worker in Mumbai. Mary’s employer is a bar owner, whose wife is also employed. Mary was left to do all the household work for 14 to 15 hours a day. She had to sleep under the stairs, and was frequently scolded. In addition, she had to endure the frequent sexual advances of her employer, a situation which she finds intolerable, but has no respite from, because she has no alternative. (CBCI survey)

Indeed, Mary doesn’t have an alternative—a plight similar to thousands of domestic workers, as they struggle for their rights and their dignity.

Domestic workers are:

• the most vulnerable women in our slums and on pavements; often single parents, since their husbands are alcoholics or have abandoned them. Besides their work in their own homes, for the survival of their children, they work in other people’s house/houses.

• young girls (and some boys) who leave their villages and tribal areas in the hope of finding a better future in cities and towns.

• small girls (sometimes boys) brought along from villages, who are obliged to do all the housework, without an opportunity to study, or even to play.

Domestic workers as human persons:

• A majority of domestic workers are recruited from villages, especially from tribal areas.

• Nearly 90% of them are women, girls or children.

• As migrants, they are totally uprooted from their own culture, their accustomed food, traditions and language, contributing to a life of fear and isolation.

• A majority of the domestic workers are illiterate, unable to read or write; they are thus unable to communicate with their families.


12 Sands of Kathua

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:35 AM ]

A---a, beti, go and call the cattle home and call the cattle home

across the sands of Kathua.

The northern wind was wild and dark with lust,

and innocently all alone went she.

The winds crept along the grazing ground,

around and round the ground

as far as eye could see.

Then the roving demons came down on the child


(with apology to Charles Kinsley)

Our darling A---a, everyone's baby, what wrong did she do? At that tender small age, she did a daily family routine, as on any other day. Why, O why, did this child with an innocent heart and face suffer such fate? Born in Kathua, buried elsewhere across mountains, by parents who moved by foot, lock, livestock and barrel from one mountain to the other.

Who is to be blamed for this graphic spiral lust of the opposite gender? Once roused, they do not care for the consequences till it is DONE with, and then it is too late both for the victim and the criminal.

Who is to be blamed? Governing bodies who pass the buck instead of coming out with immediate laws of instant punishment without useless trials, bail, umpteen pages of chargesheets, arguments for and against from legal eagles. Yes, lawmakers insist on passing useless laws amidst Opposition's din in Parliament, but laws that uphold the dignity of citizens take their own sweet time.

Who is to be blamed? Movie producers who, with both eyes wide on the box office returns and in a frantic haste to join the Rs 1000 crore club, just cannot complete a movie without that item number where over-exposed so-called item girls groove to scandalous numbers. The advertising companies responsible for commercial endorsements just cannot promote products without over-exposure of the models. Even simple products that have no relevance to the model also go the same way.


1-10 of 16