Economic Justice

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:


Economic Justice

  • Columban Week of Action: Demand Just Trade Policies

    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...

  • Columban Divestment and Positive Impact Investing

    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...

  • Faith Community Calls for a New Trade Model

    U.S. faith communities with ministries in the United States and globally welcome the consensus to shelve passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). U.S. faith communities – grounded in the shared values of solidarity, respect for human dignity and the integrity of creation, and welcoming all voices into the democratic process– call for trade and economic policies that prioritize the common good. “Trade justice advocates in the United Church of Christ celebrate the demise of...

  • Columbans Reaffirm Commitment to Faithful Trade Policies

    The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach celebrates the recent signaling from the Administration and Congress that the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement will not move forward this year. Columban missionaries live in and serve communities in 7 of the 12 participating countries involved in this agreement. Because of this, Columbans have unique exposure to the negative impacts of free trade agreements on the world’s most vulnerable people. Columban missionaries...

  • After Election Day: Next Steps for the TPP

    Next Steps for the TPP video.

    Happy Election Day! Today, millions of Americans head to the polls. Once the votes are counted, the country will begin the transition into a new administration and Congress. Before this happens, however, there is still work to be done. This year, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is on the agenda during the lame-duck session. This refers to the time period after which a new president and Congress have been elected but before those who are newly-elected...

  • Columban Statement on Economic Justice

    Columban missionaries have recognized for decades that economic injustice is a barrier to the building of the Kingdom. Economic poverty is a form of violence against the dignity of the human person, and is inevitably linked to inequality. Economic prosperity for the few has meant more and deeper poverty for many. We see the results, especially in the lives of indigenous communities, women and children, farmers, low-paid workers, and migrants of this unfair distribution of...

  • TPP To Be Signed By Global Leaders Today

    Trade ministers from the 12 participating countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will gather today in New Zealand to add their signatures to the deal. This, however, only marks the beginning of the ratification process. Although leaders of participating countries will sign the agreement, it still has to be approved by lawmakers in each of their respective countries, including the U.S. From the Columban experience, we know that the TPP does not further the best interests of the communities Columbans serve...

  • Columbans Around the World Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement

    World leaders will gather in New Zealand on February 4 to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free trade agreement encompassing 40% of the world’s economy. Columban missionaries live in and serve communities in 7 of the 12 participating countries involved in this agreement. Because of this, Columbans have unique exposure to the negative impacts of free trade agreements on the worlds’ most vulnerable people. Free trade agreements such as the TPP...