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:
Throughout the Amazon, indigenous and local communities are being threatened and displaced by extractive industries, like logging, oil, gas, and dam projects, as well as by large-scale infrastructure developments, like roads, electrical interconnections, and commercial ports.
Extractive industries visibly tear open the land and pollute the air and water. What starts to go missing with such disruption isn’t as easily seen -- the animals, plants, the delicate balance of life that forms an eco-system – but is just as harmful, if not more so.
Many countries with high levels of natural resource wealth also have higher rates of income inequality. This is known as the “resource curse,” or the “paradox of plenty.” This paradox exists due to weak policies and high levels of corruption.
Extractive industries are a major contributor to climate change, since they are responsible for extracting the natural resources whose consumption and extraction release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Copyright © 2021 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.