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:
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 650 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners, including the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. As a member of Jubilee USA, and in the wake of the devastation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we stand in solidarity with the people of those islands and their religious leaders, urging the U.S. and international financial institutions to place a moratorium on existent debts. Columban missionaries work in many communities around the world that are devastated by typhoons and hurricanes. In 2013, we joined Jubilee USA in advocating for a moratorium on the debt for the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Today we do the same for the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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) In 2013, the World Council of Churches met in Pusan, Korea, and published "Together Towards Life." One of its most challenging chapters is "Spirit of Liberation: Mission from the Margins." Jesus' mission was to liberate the oppressed, to open the eyes of the blind and to announce the Kingdom of God by opting to spend His time with the marginalized people of His day...
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...
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...
We know both through our missionary experience, and by what global climate scientists tell us, that our human dependence on fossil fuels is a significant cause of climate change and its devastating consequences. Faced with this reality, in 2016, on the feast of St. Francis in a joint announcement coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement of catholic institutions around the world, Columbans pledged to take steps to divest from fossil fuels and move towards positive impact investing...