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:
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.