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Lent is time to reflect on values

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, February 28, 2006

As we enter the season of Lent, members of the Campus Labor Action Project would like to extend a wide invitation to all members of the Notre Dame family to a communal examination of conscience on our University’s relationship with our Catholic values of community, worker justice and campus employees. This Lenten season, as we continue to ponder our Catholic Character in relation to Academic Freedom, we feel it is imperative to explore how our tradition is exercised in our business practices. Our call, from Biblical justice to Catholic Social Teaching, compels us to do more than what is competitive in the market. The economy should work for the people, not the other way around. The call to Christian love is horizontal as well as vertical. We find the call to love our neighbors in 1 John 3:17: “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” This compassion is neither charity nor welfare. A living wage is paying people enough to live on and have a dignified quality of life.In this season of preparation, CLAP would like to challenge every member of the University and President Father John Jenkins, as our leader, in particular, to turn our commitments to Catholic Social Teaching and to ending poverty into real actions on this campus. This semester, by committing publicly to the principle of living wage and commissioning a Joint Taskforce to begin meeting next school year, Jenkins can give all interested parties – students, workers, faculty and administrators – a place at the table to draw up a Just Employment policy and to decide an appropriate implementation of a living wage. Notre Dame has, in the past, advocated for living wages for workers outside our campus. Our apparel licensing code of conduct prohibits the use of sweatshops. It states, “The University of Notre Dame du Lac (‘Notre Dame’) is committed to conducting its business affairs in a socially responsible manner consistent with its religious and educational mission. Notre Dame expects nothing less of its business partners and licensees.” Our commitment to just treatment to workers abroad is admirable. Let us reflect on this past action in light of current struggles of workers here and work for a living wage.Scripture reminds us that we must “Be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Instead of giving up something for Lent, give of your talents, passion and efforts to creating a just community here at Notre Dame. CLAP is only one of many paths to take. We invite you all, through attending meetings, signing petitions and coming to our Labor Prayer Service this Lenten season to walk with us in solidarity towards a better Notre Dame.

Campus Labor Action ProjectFeb. 28