A strong statement from the head of the U.S. bishops domestic justice committee offers five conditions to guide any rescue/bailout package. In the Sept. 26 statement (it didn’t get much press; I just found it now via ZENIT), Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island) stressed “responsibility, accountability, awareness of advantages and limitations of the market, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good, in the search for just and effective responses to the economic turmoil, while considering its human impact and ethical dimensions.”

Murphy’s statement contains some powerful and welcome language (and should give pause to those who want to enlist the Catholic Church as an arm of the GOP). He spoke of “the scandalous search for excessive economic rewards even to the point of dangerous speculation that exacerbates the pain and losses of the more vulnerable are egregious examples of an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values.” He said “Those who directly contributed to this crisis or profited from it should not be rewarded or escape accountability for the harm they have done.” And he invoked Catholic social teaching to argue for greater regulation and intervention when needed.
He concludes with a quote from John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus, written to mark the 100th anniversary of Leo XIII’s great social encycical, Rerum Novarum:

Our Catholic tradition calls for a “society of work, enterprise and participation” which “is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state to assure that the basic needs of the whole society are satisfied.”

Good for the bishops, and good guidance for an economic culture that is changing before our eyes.

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