This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ending poverty with Catholic Charities USA

Catholic Charities, USA has been undertaking a campaign to end poverty in the United States. I know this because I am on their e-mail list. The campaign is outlined at last month's annual gathering in Portland, Oregon by CCUSA President Father Larry Snyder. On Friday, I got an e-mail about their new effort to solicit ideas on how this should be done. I created an account and looked over their three questions:

What can Catholic Charities agencies and staff do to spread the word among your peers, business leaders, and elected officials that we must end poverty in America?

What innovative programs have you seen or developed that tackle entrenched poverty issues like homelessness, joblessness, and hunger that could serve as models for national solutions?

What should we do as a nation to reduce poverty?

I responded, as you would expect, that the key to ending poverty is to expand the Child Tax Credit to $500 a month and to make it refundable - and that Charities, its agencies and each dioceses should not only talk about a living wage, but pay one (a living wage being defined as the practice of paying workers more for each child, regardless of position). In the market place, the only way to get away with doing this is some kind of tax benefit, as firms who pay a living wage without such a benefit would become less competitive in the short run. I also suggested that the Church excommunicate Catholic business owners and stock holders who don't pay a living wage to their employees (which is consistent with the Epistle from James read at Mass last week), since failing to do so can lead employees to seek abortion.

I would submit that the tragedy of abortion in America is not the fact that it is legal, but that some people have them because they find it necessary. Our job as Catholics is to make it unneccessary for anyone to want an abortion. The living wage issue is as essential to building the kingdom of God as any question of personal morality. If scripture is to believed, it is indeed more essential. Recall that in the parable of the sheep and the goats, the assembled mass of humanity was not judged on their personal morality, but on how they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the captive and educated the illiterate. This is where we need to place our attention and this is what will unify the Church in the end.


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