Roman Catholicism considers work a "human right and responsibility" and holds that government and society have a role in safeguarding those values, says the church's annual Labor Day message.

It supports legislation for family and medical leave, guarantees of the right to strike without being replaced and extended benefits for the unemployed.Issued in behalf of the U.S. Catholic Conference by Bishop James Malone of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the conference's committee on domestic policy, the message says the church for 100 years has backed rights of labor unions.

Advocating legislation to protect workers on strike, the message notes that while they may not be fired for striking, a loophole in the law allows employers to hire "permanent replacements."

Legislation to ban hiring of such replacements is in the works in Congress.