US Bishops Offer 5 Keys to End Financial Crisis
Urge Responsibility for Choices Made
WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 29, 2008 (www.zenit.org) - As Congress goes back to the drawing board to consider the nation's finances after today's failed bailout vote, the country's bishops have their own list of principles they hope will be taken into account.
In a letter sent to government leaders Friday, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the episcopal conference's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged a consideration of five key principles when considering how to bail out the nation's failing economy.
He first promised that the bishops are praying for the situation, which he called "both terribly disturbing and enormously complicated." Then, acknowledging that "my brother bishops and I do not bring technical expertise to these complicated matters," he affirmed that "our faith and moral principles can help guide the search for just and effective responses to the economic turmoil threatening our people."
The first key Bishop Murphy encouraged was taking into account the "human and moral dimensions" of the crisis.
"Economic arrangements, structures and remedies should have as a fundamental purpose safeguarding human life and dignity," he affirmed. The prelate said a "scandalous search for excessive economic rewards," which gets to the point of exacerbating the vulnerable, is an example of "an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values."
"This ignores the impact of economic decisions on the lives of real people as well as the ethical dimension of the choices we make and the moral responsibility we have for their effect on people," Bishop Murphy wrote.
Second, the New York bishop called for "responsibility and accountability."
"Clearly, effective measures are required which address and alter the behaviors, practices and misjudgments that led to this crisis. […] Those who directly contributed to this crisis or profited from it should not be rewarded or escape accountability for the harm they have done," he said.
The prelate next recalled that in any case, the market will always have "advantages and limitations."
"[T]here are human needs which find no place on the market," Bishop Murphy said. "It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied." In this regard, he called for a "renewal of instruments of monitoring and correction within economic institutions and the financial industry as well as effective public regulation and protection to the extent this may be clearly necessary."
"Solidarity and the common good" is the fourth principle the prelate encouraged.
"The principle of solidarity reminds us that we are in this together and warns us that concern for narrow interests alone can make things worse," he explained. "The principle of solidarity commits us to the pursuit of the common good, not the search for partisan gain or economic advantage."
Finally, Bishop Murphy recommended recalling the principle of subsidiarity.
"Subsidiarity places a responsibility on the private actors and institutions to accept their own obligations," he said. "If they do not do so, then the larger entities, including the government, will have to step in to do what private institutions will have failed to do."
The bishop concluded recalling words from the encyclical "Centesimus Annus": "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.
"These words of John Paul II should be adopted as a standard for all those who carry this responsibility for our nation, the world and the common good of all."