BY Daniel Harkins | April 3 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Paisley, Catholics back living wage

Bishop John Keenan gave a passionate defence of the Church’s role in politics last Friday as Paisley Diocese and a number of Catholic organisations were accredited as living wage employers.

At a gathering in St Mirin’s Cathedral Hall, the Conforti Institute, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), Missio Scotland, and the Society of St Vincent De Paul joined the bishop as they committed to paying their employees the living wage of at least £7.85 an hour.

In a talk to pupils from schools across Paisley diocese, Bishop Keenan said that faith is not just something you do on your knees but something you do with your hands. He explained that after the Reformation, the Church decided not to involve itself in politics, as throughout history ‘anytime the Church wanted political power it went wrong.’ After the Industrial Revolution, the bishop said, as equality increased and workers were exploited, things changed. “We need to be involved in politics, but not in power,” he said.

The bishop also told the pupils that the Scottish bishops would be releasing a statement on the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system, and that they would be issuing a pastoral letter giving advice to parishioners ahead of the May 7 general election. Paisley Diocese has also been contacted by East Renfrewshire Council to work with them in tackling poverty.

“I think there is certainly a consensus amongst the Bishops of Scotland, taking their lead from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium that their isn’t a Gospel that is not social, you can’t love God without loving your country and the interest of the country, you can’t be concerned about your faith without being concerned about the poor, and you can’t be concerned about heaven without being concerned about the earth,” Bishop Keenan told the SCO. “We don’t want power for ourselves but we do want to be voices for the voiceless. You can’t be a voice for the voiceless unless you are working with civic society to make a better world. That’s why I would say we don’t want power but do need to be in politics to bring the life of the Gospel.

“Since the 2008 crash there has been a much more widespread effect of poverty so it is not even a marginal issue; it is now a central issue to many, many people.”

Coatbridge’s Conforti Institute have been at the forefront of the campaign for the living wage, originally contacting Paisley Diocese to ask them to get involved.

Missio Scotland said it was pleased to be part of the Living Wage campaign, stating: “As a Church we are always aligned with the poor and weak in the struggle to spread the abundant riches of creation to the benefit of all of God’s people.”

Alistair Dutton, director of SCIAF, said that treating employees fairly is a must.

Bishop Keenan said he expects that most of the dioceses in Scotland pay the living wage so ‘generally speaking it’s more a matter of getting us involved in the campaign.’




Pic: Robert Wilson


—This story ran in full in the April 3 print edition of the SCO, available in parishes.



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