In their daily lives, Columbans witness the hardships brought about by destructive global economic structures and policies. For many farmers and factory workers, poverty and exclusion from the global economy is a life or death matter. As people of faith we are called to walk in solidarity with the economically poor and call for a global economy and market that serves the people.
“We recognize the moral challenge of worldwide and local poverty, and allow this recognition to qualify all our thinking… It means supporting the struggle of the poor for real participation and against injustice.”
–Missionary Society of St. Columban Constitution
We advocate for fair trade and debt relief.
Trade and debt agreements have human consequences, and must be evaluated with regard to the effects that they have on the poor and on Creation. Columbans work in many countries affected by free trade agreements that have a negative impact on local farmers and laborers.
These agreements tend to favor the interests of transnational corporations and make it more difficult for governments to defend labor rights and protect the environment. As a result, they drive migration, exacerbate poverty, and harm the environment.
In the same way, many developing nations pay debt service to wealthy nations and institutions at the expense of providing essential services, such as access to clean water, adequate housing, and basic health care, to their people. The Church believes trade and debt policies must be just and provide for the needs of the poor, the common good and our common home, rather than the profits of foreign investors and creditors.
We advocate for sustainable development and just economic models.
Pope Francis has referred to poverty as a sign of the times and a scandal. “In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
We believe that the current global economic model does not reflect the Gospel values of solidarity, justice, dignity, and respect for all of Creation. We believe the global economy should serve the poor and vulnerable with care and respect and reverence for all of Creation.
There must be a more just distribution of the world’s resources. Global economic development must be both equitable and sustainable: it must hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49). “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed” (EG 202).
Economic Justice Resources:
In recent weeks, hurricanes and powerful storms ravaged our homes across the Caribbean to the shores of the United States. We pray, mourn and hope with all of the victims from Dominica to Florida. In particular, we remember the most vulnerable were not prepared to cope with the storms and have fewer resources to recover.
In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands we are desperately trying to help our people survive amidst the most destructive natural disaster to visit our islands in a century.
Sociologists claim that one of the major problems in much of the world is that nowadays people only listen to, read of and converse with people who think the same as them.
Power and prosperity can stifle the Spirit, blind us to others and prevent us from understanding the weak. Witness the rich man who never understood or appreciated Lazarus at his door. (Lk 16:19-31)
Washington, D.C.- Yesterday, the Trump Administration sent official notice to Congress calling for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. For nearly twenty years, the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment has called for a transparent and open trade policy that respects and supports the human dignity of every person, the integrity of God’s creation, and advances the common good.
Based on the leaked proposal in April, we fear that a modernization of NAFTA that would include some of the worst provisions of TPP will further exacerbate inequities at the expense of vulnerable populations and creation.
Last week, the new administration released a series of rapid-fire executive orders targeting these very things Columbans care about most deeply: humane migration policies, caring for creation, promoting peace, and advancing faithful trade policies.
As people of faith, we must respond to attacks on the most vulnerable with action. Every day this week, we’ll send you an opportunity to respond to one of the executive orders that were signed last week.
St. Columban, known for his mystical relationship with the natural world, is quoted as saying, If you want to know the Creator, know Creation. Today, Columban missionaries carry this spirituality of care and respect for Creation as integral to our missionary identity and way of participating in God’s mission. This has led Columbans to dedicate ourselves to education and advocacy nationally and internationally on key ecological issues like climate change, water, food, extractive industries and biodiversity.
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.