More than 25 years ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, affirming its strong support for economic justice.
Before joining the faculty at Penn State, I taught for 25 years at the Catholic University of America, where I regularly asked my students to read the letter. Almost all of them were Catholic, and the bishops commitment to organizing the U.S. economy to provide economic justice for all including the institutional support of strong labor organizations rarely failed to resonate with them.
Now, during a period of unprecedented worsening economic inequality in the U.S., the bishops are almost mute on issues of economic justice. Instead, they just completed their Fortnight for Freedom campaign based on the spurious claim that there exists a concerted attack on religious freedom in the Obama administrations handling of the contraception issue.
Bishops lost the battle over contraception with their flock many decades ago (less than 10 percent of U.S. Catholics believe contraception is morally wrong). Fortnight threatens to turn Catholic voters against a president whose values and policy agenda are aimed squarely at doing more for the poor, protecting rights to unionize and reducing economic inequality.
Catholics interested in a more balanced view of the social values of their tradition and how those values might inform voting choices would do well to read Economic Justice for All.
John D. McCarthy Zion