Every year around the middle of February 19 Catholic organizations including the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and Catholic Relief Services get together to advocate on issues of Catholic social concern. The event is called the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering and this year’s theme is Protecting Human Life and Dignity: Promoting a Just Economy. This year marks the 120th anniversary of Catholic Social Teaching with the release of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum.” From the time of “Rerum Novarum” to the most recent encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI “Caritas in Veritate” the Church has consistently supported principles and policies related to the pursuit of economic justice. “Rerum Novarum” set this in motion by identifying the moral injustice of an unregulated market system that does not provide for the social welfare of the poor working class.
…it has come to pass that working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition. … To this must be added that the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself. #3
This week the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering sent a message to congress advocating for three crucial issues of economic justice. On Tuesday the 15th of February many Catholic leaders and organizations met with their congressional delegations to advocate for these issues. Below is the core message that was given. Later on I will share the concern that the Church has expressed regarding each of these issues.
Catholic Social Ministry Gathering message to Congress: Protect the Poor and Vulnerable In a Tough Budget, a Broken Economy and a Wounded World
At a time of economic crisis brought about by irresponsible action, we call for new responsibility and solidarity. We support budget, tax and economic policies that assist and protect “the least among us,” offer decent jobs at decent wages for the unemployed, and preserve international assistance to the poorest people in the poorest places on earth. The everyday experience of Catholic parishes, Catholic Charities, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Relief Services makes clear the moral and human costs of the economic crisis, short-sighted budget cuts, environmental neglect, and global poverty, hunger and disease.
Our life and dignity agenda begins with the consistent defense of unborn human life and assistance to pregnant women and their children. Our priorities include: providing welfare, nutrition and housing assistance that respects human dignity and offers hope; U.S. leadership for a two-state solution that brings a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, recovery for Haiti, and a stable peace after the referendum in Southern Sudan; support for human rights, beginning with religious freedom and the defense of Christians and other minorities who are under attack; fixing a broken immigration system by adopting compassionate and comprehensive reform; promoting environmental justice including climate change policies that assist the poor in our own country and around the world; and other issues touching human life and dignity. In a spirit of “faithful citizenship,” we come to Capitol Hill to urge action in theses specific areas:
- Put the needs of the poor and jobless first in our public priorities, budget and tax policies, and economic recovery efforts.
- Ensure that health care protects the life, dignity consciences and health of all.
- Preserve poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance to promote a better, safer world.