Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings. - Evangelli Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis
Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. Bishops issued a landmark 99-page pastoral letter entitled Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy. Today, with a record number of people suffering in a flailing economy, the letter’s call to promote human dignity in economic, policy and individual actions is as relevant as ever.
We believe that each person has a right to access the basic necessities of life. We advocate for food and income security for all—especially children and the elderly. We believe in policies for decent housing and shelter, especially for farm workers. We support access to basic health care for all. We advocate for employment and promote the idea of fair wages and fair taxes. We oppose unjust discrimination, racism, torture and human trafficking.
As the California drought reaches historic levels, hundreds of water districts throughout the state are scrambling to fill the needs of rural, urban and industrial customers. Competing relief proposals fly through Congress even as Governor Brown teams with California legislative leaders to fashion a $687 million drought-relief program.
While briefly celebrating California’s “comeback” from years of severe financial instability and recession, Governor Jerry Brown delivered a tempered State of the State address this week that was peppered with strong calls for prudence and fiscal discipline.
On the bright side, the Governor applauded the high points of the state’s recovery: “A million new jobs since 2010, a budgetary surplus in the billions and a minimum wage rising to $10 and hour!” But he cautioned, “We are not out of the woods yet.”
"Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless." (Pope Francis in a Letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron for the G8 Meeting)
On December 12, 2013, Pope Francis called for action against the scourge of human trafficking. He stated, "Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that's become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society, international security and laws, the economy, families and communities.”
California is facing its third straight year of lower than normal rainfall. The Golden State is no stranger to drought and - although one has not been officially declared – the low levels of reservoirs, Sierra snowpack and groundwater are becoming increasingly apparent.
“Water is essential to who we are as human beings,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and president of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops. “Our reliance on water reveals how much we are part of creation and creation is a part of us.”
Five months is nothing in the life of an institution that "thinks in centuries" like the Catholic Church. So it's almost miraculous that Pope Francis has, in the short time since his election, amassed so much teaching on a single subject: economic inequality. This subject is also the focus of the 2013 Labor Day Statement by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.