Privately and publicly, Pope Francis went out of his way today to express solidarity with disempowered workers. At a private mass to commemorate May Day (or more specifically, the parallel Feast of St. Joseph the Worker), Pope Francis referred to the victims of the Bangladesh factory explosion as part of a system of “slave labor:”

“How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!” he said, as protesters in May Day demonstrations around the world rallied against unfair work conditions and unemployment.

“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!” the pope said in his strongly-worded address.

The 76-year-old later spoke to thousands of followers in St Peter’s Square, urging politicians to fight unemployment and calling for greater “social justice” against “selfish profit”.

“I call on politicians to make every effort to relaunch the labour market,” he said in his traditional weekly address.

Some of you may recall an incident back in 2010 when Glenn Beck told listeners to leave their churches or denominations if they heard any talk about “social justice,” which he identifies as a code word for “Communist” or “Nazi” teachings. While there’s nothing novel about Francis’ basic argument, which reflects well over a century of Catholic teaching, its prominence and tone must send all sorts of Tea Party Christians right over the edge.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.