Gaudium et Spes 66

Gaudium et Spes comes down hard on “immense” inequalities. Read, if you please:

To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination.

Discrimination, individual and social, a plague then and now.

Likewise, in many areas, in view of the special difficulties of agriculture relative to the raising and selling of produce, country people must be helped both to increase and to market what they produce, and to introduce the necessary development and renewal and also obtain a fair income. Otherwise, as too often happens, they will remain in the condition of lower-class citizens. Let farmers themselves, especially young ones, apply themselves to perfecting their professional skill, for without it, there can be no agricultural advance.(In reference to agricultural problems cf. especially John XXIII, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961))

An allusion to the onset of the so-called Green Revolution of the late 20th century. The council bishops did not foresee the rise of corporate agriculture, and seem also to have overlooked the role of scientific research, especially in botany and genetics to address the problems of feeding the world’s peoples.

Justice and equity likewise require that the mobility, which is necessary in a developing economy, be regulated in such a way as to keep the life of individuals and their families from becoming insecure and precarious. When workers come from another country or district and contribute to the economic advancement of a nation or region by their labor, all discrimination as regards wages and working conditions must be carefully avoided. All the people, moreover, above all the public authorities, must treat them not as mere tools of production but as persons, and must help them to bring their families to live with them and to provide themselves with a decent dwelling; they must also see to it that these workers are incorporated into the social life of the country or region that receives them. Employment opportunities, however, should be created in their own areas as far as possible.

Catholics in congress might need this as a primer. Clearly, Latin American workers contribute to the American economy, making life better for us citizens as a result. The Catholic response includes the need for outreach to families. I do not think any Christian can deny the unity of the family separated by work opportunity plus an international border. GS does not present a one-sided consideration, however. Catch this:

Employment opportunities, however, should be created in their own areas as far as possible.

In economic affairs which today are subject to change, as in the new forms of industrial society in which automation, for example, is advancing, care must be taken that sufficient and suitable work and the possibility of the appropriate technical and professional formation are furnished. The livelihood and the human dignity especially of those who are in very difficult conditions because of illness or old age must be guaranteed.

And, of course, who would be responsible for this formation? It is not in the economic interests of particular businesses to retrain workers for another employer. Education is often beyond the means of lowere-middle class people and those poorer. It is an undeniable benefit to the government to have well-trained workers producing tax income.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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