OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - "Keeping Time. Australian families and the culture of overwork" May 1 Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops' Catholic Social Justice Council

Monday, 30 April 2007

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - “No” to the culture of overwork which produces an individualistic mentality undermining family communion and bonds: families must be guaranteed time for interpersonal contact, conversation, healthy parent-children relationship. This was affirmed in a Pastoral Letter "Keeping Time. Australian families and the culture of overwork" issued by the Catholic Bishops of Australia on the occasion of the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, May 1. The Letter is signed by Bishop Christopher Saunders, of the diocese of Broome, chairman of the Bishops' Australian Catholic Social Justice Council which deals with matters concerning social justice in general and the environment.
The Letter denounces a massive encroachment of work into family time recalling that Australia is "among the most overworked nations in the world, with a very high rating among 18 developed nations on key indicators of work intensification. With 22% of the workforce doing at least 50 hours each week, Australia runs second only to Japan in terms of average working hours." The Bishop writes " it is time for Australia, with the help of our political leaders, to put work in its proper perspective. Work can be an expression of our God-given talents, the means for forming and supporting families and an opportunity for solidarity and contributing to the common good. It is an important means - not an end in itself."
Time together is every family’s right the Bishop affirms adding that once again only recently the universal Church called on the international community to ensure working parents, both men and women, are ‘assisted, if necessary by law, to bring their own unique and irreplaceable contribution to the upbringing of their children, to the evident benefit of the whole society. The Bishop quotes Pope Benedict XVI who addressed Youth Forum on Work in Rome earlier this year and warned of "labour market changes depriving young people of their ‘ability to not only dream and build up a project for the future, but even to commit themselves to matrimony and start a family".
The Letter concludes underlining on the one hand governments duty to regulate the labour market and guarantee balanced working hours and suited to family needs; on the other it urges people to avoid overworking but to consider the good of the family not only economic good but in terms of wellbeing, to build friendship, confidence, time for play, dialogue and family prayer. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/4/2007 Righe: 25 Parole: 253)