7: The Economy and the Poor


Joseph Bernardin asserts that the bishop has a full right and a compelling duty to come to terms with important topics such as the economy. It is the bishops' duty – a duty which arises from their roles as teachers of moral truth – to address economic questions. However, the real questions concern the people. Are poor people protected against suffering rooted in economic disadvantage? Every society has a moral obligation to take the necessary steps to ensure that none of its members suffer from hunger, homelessness, and unemployment, or is denied what is necessary for a dignified life. Poverty in the world is so massive that we do not know yet how to deal with it. In political debates the question of the poor still exercises very little leverage.

The concept of “economic justice for all” is deeply rooted in the Scriptures. We must make space for the faces of the poor not only in our personal consciences but also in public agendas; the Church must speak for the poor and view the world from their perspective.

In conclusion, Cardinal Bernardin states that a consistent ethical life is a contribution that the Church can and should make in any nation's public debates. These consistent ethics, as defined by Cardinal Bernardin, must include a substantial commitment to the poor, because to stand for the needs of the poor means to stand for life.