Summary: We have a duty in charity to address issues of massive disparities in economic development and incomes.
November 23, 2009
Bl Miguel Pro
Caritas in Veritate
The Old Testament had particular contempt for those who oppressed widows and orphans. In a male-dominated society, where women were almost like property rather than equal partners in a marriage, being a widow, particularly a childless one, was like a death sentence. The Church has always had a particular care for widows and orphans. In fact, that’s why the apostles laid hands on the first deacons. There is always a disparity between rich and poor, and we are called to speak to and minister to the poor in every age and country.
The Holy Father knows that in any economic system, there will be such disparities. Still, he says that the “dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.” This is simple economic sense. Where there is a “massive increase in relative poverty,” like there still is between Northern Mexico and the southern U.S., social cohesion suffers and democracy is jeopardized. The “social capital” of society is eroded and trust relationships are destroyed. We can see the results in the drug violence that grips many of the border areas. The Pope goes on: “Economic science tells us that structural insecurity generates anti-productive attitudes wasteful of human resources, inasmuch as workers tend to adapt passively to automatic mechanisms, rather than to release creativity. On this point too, there is a convergence between economic science and moral evaluation. Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs. It should be remembered that the reduction of cultures to the technological dimension, even if it favours short-term profits, in the long term impedes reciprocal enrichment and the dynamics of cooperation.” For a culture raised on TV shows that solve complex problems in 43 minutes of air time, whose idea of long-term planning is deciding where to eat lunch, this kind of view is radically challenging. We must pray and work toward building a culture that looks at development holistically, and sees beyond our own lifetime when considering what is good.