Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Economic Principles

My husband and I will be visiting with relatives for the next two weeks, so I won't be posting. Feel free to look around my blog. If you are visiting from the Catholic Carnival, hit the "Home" link at the bottom of this post to get to the main blog. If you are interested in Intelligent Design Theory, click the ID link in the right column under "Topics."

Recently I've talked briefly about problems with US health care and immigration reform. I thought I'd add here a bishop's statement, "A Catholic Framework for Economic Life" that is on the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website. It's found through links from their economic teaching page. They used various sources to write this list of principles, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and their pastoral letter of 1986, Economic Justice for All.

Here is the introduction and list:
As followers of Jesus Christ and participants in a powerful economy, Catholics in the United States are called to work for greater economic justice in the face of persistent poverty, growing income-gaps, and increasing discussion of economic issues in the United States and around the world. We urge Catholics to use the following ethical framework for economic life as principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and directions for action. These principles are drawn directly from Catholic teaching on economic life.

1. The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.
2. All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family and serve the common good.
3. A fundamental moral measure of any economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring.
4. All people have a right to life and to secure the basic necessities of life (e.g., food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security.)
5. All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions as well as to organize and join unions or other associations.
6. All people, to the extent they are able, have a corresponding duty to work, a responsibility to provide the needs of their families and an obligation to contribute to the broader society.
7. In economic life, free markets have both cleat advantages and limits; government has essential responsibilities and limitations; voluntary groups have irreplaceable roles, but cannot substitute for the proper working of the market and the just policies of the state.
8. Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs, and pursue justice in economic life.
9. Workers, owners, managers, stockholders and consumers are moral agents in economic life. By our choices, initiative, creativity and investment, we enhance or diminish economic opportunity, community life and social justice.
10. The global economy has moral dimensions and human consequences. Decisions on investment, trade, aid and development should protect human life and promote human rights, especially for those most in need wherever they might live on this globe.

It is not a perfect world, and not everyone will live by these guidelines. But Catholics are a significant part of the population and can have a real impact on others. Of course, many already try to follow these principles. Let us pray for wisdom and right judgment in our economic affairs.

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