Champions of worker's rights firing their own staff! (Brownsville diocese)

On the heels of sex scandals in the Catholic church is the Brownsville diocese getting a new bishop, who promptly fires the staff. This staff unionized just last year, the only church staff to have one. In this mostly hispanic, agriculturally prominent region, where Cesar Chaves ranks up there with the saints. Where the catholic church has often defended the rights of workers, the new Bishop Pena pulls this boneheaded stunt.

To the credit of the parishners, they have mounted protests. I have often been critical of the Catholic church, and its less than open heirarchy, but I have gained nothing but respect for parishners, who know well how to express their displeasure. Primarily by witholding tithes. I do not understand why they just leave, but I do admire their decision.

This could likely cause the church to lose more money and give it a load of bad press. Just what they need!

Here’s the link

Fascinating - thanks for posting this

It’s unclear to me what your specific objection is. Peña shouldn’t fire anyone? The workers were fired in violation of their rights? The church as a whole should never fire anyone?

Can you explain precisely what your point is?

It looks mighty suspicious when an entire union gets fired. What? Were they all peeing in the font?

Pena (sorry my keyboard can’t do the squiggly thing) is probably politically anti-union, and decided to squish it out, not being able to bear having his Parish workers be unionized. He did profit financially by screwing the workers.

Every time I see or hear the name Pena I get nauseaus… Reminds me of one of our former governors…

A unionized church office staff?!

Note that the NCR is a very left leaning liberal independent newspaper and will often exaggerate a story to make the institutional church look bad. Not that they’re always wrong, but they do have this disposition.

OTOH, I can see the events as chronicled as actually happening. As Cardinal Law showed, some bishops can truly be that fucked up.


I saw this story last night on CBS news. The thing is that the previous bishop honored the unioin, possibly even making a contract with them. Now to fire individuals is one thing, but to mess with a union does have consequences. To fire a whole staff in a grab to eliminate a union could have legal consequences.

Time will tell if the church will actually save money. My guess is that it will alienate some parishners causing some loss in income. Granted, the Brownsville diocese is a poor one.

Well, at first blush, it might seem so.

But we’re only talking about four workers. Moreover, the link in the OP suggests that the four were members of the group “Call to Action,” which strongly advocates the ordination of women, of gays, and the changing of Catholic teaching on abortion.

It’s unclear to me if this is true. But if it is, and if the workers were using their positions as parish employees, then this is an alternative (that is, non-union-based) reason to fire them.

So while it LOOKED suspicious, you can now see that there is some additional investigation to be done - right?

I’m going to ask for a cite on that last claim regarding abortion (and I’m not sure about the second claim regarding gay ordination).

While I don’t doubt that some members of CTA are pro choice (or members of Catholics for a Free Choice), I don’t see anything that states that changing church teaching on abortion is part of the stated mission of CTA

Their most recent mission statement is here

From what I read, they are interested in

  1. involvement of women at all levels of ministry and decision making
  2. ending mandatory celibacy (and mandatory exclusion of women from priesthood)
  3. consultation from the laity on church teaching regarding sexuality (as in economic justice teachings)
  4. participation of laity in selection of bishops
  5. reaching out to other cultures through liturgy
  6. academic freedom
  7. financial openness
  8. growing ecumenism

I don’t see anything specific to challenging the abortion teaching.

You’re well within your rights to ask for a cite – but I didn’t advance the characterization as a known fact, having merely skimmed the linked article. That’s why I said things like the above.

Ahh…it was unclear if the description of CTA was just from the article…or your understanding as well. Upon first read it seemed as if the description part of the post was from you.

Now it makes sense.

Clearer still would have been to say “…“Call to Action,” which apparently strongly advocates the ordination of women, of gays, and …” which would have highlighted the fact that I was just going by supposition. My bad - your first reading was not unjustified.

Anyway, I’ve now read the material in detail. The proposition that CTA supports abortion teaching changes and the ordination of gays is supported by the following evidence:

The CTA web page provides a link to “Catholics for a Free Choice.”

CTA has “joined with the pro-gay group DIGNITY in some efforts.”

This being somewhat less than rock-solid proof, it seems safe to assume that the letter-writer making the claim is full of it. (Not to suggest that CTA is in union with the Holy See, of course, but that their dissent seems limited to the issue of ordination of women.)

  • Rick