Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Bishops Call for New Game Rules in Globalization

Latin American Prelates Envision Continent of Love BOGOTA, Colombia, FEB. 12, 2009 ( ).- The roots of the economic crisis point to the need for a new international structure, say bishops of Latin America. This conclusion came in a statement from the leadership of the Latin American bishops’ council, which met in Colombia last week. Taking up the observation made by Benedict XVI, the prelates affirmed that “the current crisis is not the result of immediate financial difficulties, but a consequence of the state of ecological health of the planet, and above all, of the cultural and moral crisis that we live, whose symptoms have been evident for some time now all around the world.” Thus, the bishops declared, “globalization should abide by ethics, placing everything at the service of the human person created in the image and likeness of God.” “The current financial crisis has shown the excessive desire for luxury above the valuing of work and employment, making it into an end in itself,” they added. This inversion of values “perverts human relationships,” the bishops warned, “substituting them for financial transactions, which should be at the service of production and the satisfaction of human needs.” The prelates continued, “It has become evident that globalization as it is currently configured has not been capable of interpreting and reacting in function of objective values, which are found beyond the market and which make up the most important part of human life: truth, justice, love and especially, the dignity and rights of everyone, even those who live at the outskirts of the market itself.” The Latin American prelates lamented that international economy has concentrated power and riches in just a few hands, excluding the underprivileged and increasing inequality. They urged “seriously considering the need to establish bases for a new international order, founded on new game rules, which also take into account the values of the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church, with the aim to promote a globalization marked by solidarity and rationality, that would make of this continent not only the continent of hope, but also the continent of love.”

Filed under: consumerism, Economic Policy, Market Place

President of Caritas Internationalis Discusses role of families

ZE09020605 – 2009-02-06 Permalink:


Interview With Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga

By Gilberto Hernández García

MEXICO CITY, FEB. 6, 2009 ( With all of the importance that families have for individuals and society — including in the economic realm — the decision to form a family should be made with ample preparation, says the president of Caritas. Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga affirmed this last month when he spoke with ZENIT at the 6th World Meeting of Families, held Jan. 14-18 in Mexico City. In this interview, he considers the impact of poverty on family relationships and the Church’s response.

Q: You have a broad vision of social issues and their repercussion on families. In this regard, what is the issue that most concerns the Church today?

  Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga: The family itself — that is the principal point, the most important option in the life of the human being; as a consequence, it is on the list of the concerns we have: what to do so that people are ever better prepared for this life option. All big things are prepared for, they are not improvised, but many times the greatest decision of life, which is love and family, is improvised in a frightful way. Sometimes we have families that start off because of a mistake and not because of a decision made freely. To prepare this life option is perhaps the biggest objective of all evangelization of family ministry.

Q: What do you think about the evident process of poverty and inequality that Latin America suffers and that in many cases restrains the integral development of families?

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga: In the World Meeting of Families, a specialist in economics presented to us the consequences that a lack of families has for economic development, for poverty itself. With studies and statistics, she showed us that physical and mental health is much better in united families than in single-parent or disintegrated families. Poverty is much worse in broken than in united families. In this regard, they looked at distinct aspects, for example, higher education and the obstacles when parents are divorced. These are elements very little considered by the press and it’s worthwhile to give them attention. The educative role of the family is spoken of; some reduce it to school education. Here it was made clear what moral education in the family means, spiritual education, economic aspects and the testimony of the father of the family, when in the midst of life’s vicissitudes, he is capable of heroically accompanying the family. These are unexplored riches and it’s worthwhile to make them known, because there are people who suffer and hearing these cases gives them strength. Poverty is a reality that is increasing in our countries, instead of diminishing. Now we have this very grave financial crisis and it is foreseen that it will have many consequences.

Q: Some say poor countries are poor because they don’t regulate births. Many governments focus their strategies against poverty with policies of birth control.

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga: These birth control policies are in reality the elimination of the birth rate. They consider only one of the perspectives. It is thought that we are poor because we have a large population and this is a sophism. Population is necessary for economic development; there is a country in Latin America that was the first, already in the 50s, to apply reductions of birth rate. What has happened to that country? It cannot grow and, as a consequence, it doesn’t have consumers so that there are prosperous businesses. They have to import everything from other large countries and barely have a subsistent economy — not a development as there should be. The Church speaks clearly of responsible paternity and maternity; the transmission of life is a great responsibility of the parents, not a product of some disorder. It is a great responsibility. In the same way governments have the grave responsibility to procure the common good for all citizens, and if there are citizens that should be privileged, it should be the poor and not those who have more. And that is why the Church, that is Mother, heavily insists in its social doctrine that the family is not like an element that doesn’t play a part in the social problems. In the social doctrine of the Church, a very important chapter is the family, because it is very linked to everything that refers to social problems. The Church has always made the appeal to governments to concern themselves with poor families.

Q: What merit has the idea that the Church only gives privileges to the rich?

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga: One who says this doesn’t know the life of the Church. In the first place, the Church is not reduced to the hierarchy; every baptized person is the Church. If we look at all the pastoral developments in the continent, we see that the Church has made a preferential option for the poor. In Mexico there is a unique case for our continent: businessmen and people of the high economic class sustain the Instituto Mexicano de Doctrina Social (Mexican Institute of Social Doctrine), which educates the people precisely in the conviction they have that one of the best ways to relieve poverty is through education. The institute has given scholarships to students from poor countries, including Cuba, who have come to Mexico with full scholarships, to go deeper in the study of the social doctrine of the Church. So this judgment cannot be generalized. One who examines the life of the Church understands that the preferential option for the poor is not poetry, but reality. Sometimes Catholic morality is criticized because it is opposed to the use of condoms as a solution for the problem of HIV-AIDS. Well I want to say that 27% of the organizations in the world [that work] in favor of patients with this illness are from the Catholic Church and they receive barely 2% of the Global Fund for aid for HIV-AIDS patients. If we move to programs of housing construction, we realize what it means when, during natural disasters, I speak as president of Caritas Internationalis, the most respected institution in the preferential option for the poor.

Filed under: AIDS, Caritas, Economic Policy, morals, Social Doctrine

Pope says labor unions important in resolving financial crisis

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said labor unions have an important role to play in finding a way out of the global financial crisis and establishing a new culture of solidarity and responsibility in the marketplace.

“The great challenge and the great opportunity posed by today’s worrisome economic crisis is to find a new synthesis between the common good and the market, between capital and labor. And in this regard, union organizations can make a significant contribution,” the pope told directors of the Confederation of Italian Labor Unions Jan. 31.

The pope emphasized that the inalienable dignity of the worker has been a cornerstone of the church’s social teaching in the modern age, and said this teaching has helped the movement toward fair wages, improvement of working conditions and protection of vulnerable categories of employees.

Workers are facing particular risks in the current economic crisis, and unions must be part of the solution, he said.

“In order to overcome the economic and social crisis we’re experiencing, we know that a free and responsible effort on the part of everyone is required,” the pope said.

“In other words, it is necessary to overcome the interests of particular groups and sectors, in order to face together and in a united way the problems that are affecting every area of society, especially the world of labor,” he said.

“Never has this need been felt so urgently. The problems tormenting the world of labor push toward an effective and closer arrangement between the many and diverse components of society,” he said.

He noted that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had underlined labor as the key component in social questions and had described the labor union as an indispensable element of social life in modern industrialized societies.

Pope Benedict has been working on his first social encyclical, tentatively titled “Caritas in Veritate” (“Love in Truth”), which is expected to be published sometime this year.

Filed under: Economic Policy, Market Place, Official Statements, Papal Teachings, Social Justice


WASHINGTON— Writing as chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Justin Rigali sent a letter on February 5 to all members of Congress, urging them to maintain pro-life provisions in the appropriations bills they must soon approve to keep government programs funded past March 5.

“I urge you not to use this legislation to weaken or rescind longstanding provisions that protect U.S. taxpayers from being forced to fund and promote the destruction of innocent human life,” Cardinal Rigali said. “In making this plea,” he said, “I am joined by millions of Catholics and others who, in the weeks to come, will be sending postcards to their elected representatives with this message: ‘ Please oppose FOCA [the ‘Freedom of Choice Act’] or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.’

While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress’s appropriations process.”

The prelate’s letter highlighted several pro-life provisions, including: the Hyde amendment and similar measures protecting American taxpayers from being forced to subsidize abortions; the Dickey/Wicker amendment preventing federal funding for research in which human embryos are created, harmed and destroyed; and the Kemp-Kasten amendment preventing U.S. funding of organizations that support or help manage programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Cardinal Rigali also called on Congress to maintain the Hyde/Weldon conscience protection amendment , a key measure preventing discrimination against health care providers who do not perform or refer for abortions. “Clearly ‘choice’ is an empty slogan if physicians, nurses and hospitals must ‘choose’ to provide abortions or be forced out of the health care field,” he said. “Like Congress’s decision about requiring taxpayers to fund abortion, the decision whether to maintain current conscience protections could play a major role in determining whether Americans of different backgrounds, viewpoints and religions will be able to work together toward a consensus on much-needed health care reform,” Cardinal Rigali advised.

Filed under: Culture, healthcare, Medical Ethics, morals, Social Doctrine