Australian bishops warn of 'culture of overwork'

 The culture of overwork is undermining family life, the Australian bishops have said in their latest Pastoral Letter, entitled "Keeping Time. Australian families and the culture of overwork". Families must be guaranteed time for interpersonal contact, conversation and healthy parent-children relationship the bishops say in the letter, released for 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. 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 Bishops write: " 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 Bishops affirm 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 Letter 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. Source: Fides

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