Issued April 12, 2020
The Reverend William J. Barber II, Co-Chair of the Poor Peoples Campaign: National Call for a Moral Revival and Service Employees International Union International President Mary Kay Henry released the following statement in reaction to Pope Francis’s Easter letter to people who participate in social movements and organizations:
“In the faith tradition that both of us share, Easter is a day of resurrection and life.
“This year, the global health catastrophe of COVID-19 has shadowed our celebration of hope and joy with grief and fear. Still, even during these difficult days, we have taken solace by joining in the solidarity shown by poor and working-class people of all races and religions who have united to protect each other during the crisis.
“Pope Francis’s deeply moving Easter letter this year to people who are part of social movements worldwide speaks to the values of all of us who believe a moral, just society for all working families.
“In his letter, Francis speaks plainly about the suffering caused when profit is prioritized over people. He observes that this pandemic has exposed how ‘[o]ur civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.’
“We share Francis’s determination to ensure dignity and justice for all working people, especially anyone made more vulnerable to poverty or hunger because of the pandemic. And we are inspired by his call for respect for work, including his support for fundamental societal change ‘that would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks [workers and farmers] carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.’
“Both of us are in profound agreement with Francis’s call for action, sharing his hope that ‘this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the center.’
“By recentering what our economy and society value most, we believe that humankind can undergo a moral revival. Poor and working people can join together in a moral justice conversation to reimagine a future where all workers and our families live and work in dignity, where work is fulfilling and fairly rewarded, and all families can live in safe and healthy communities.”