Speaking for all of the U.S. Catholic bishops, Cardinal Francis George issued a statement today on the economic situation. In the message, the bishops expressed their solidarity with those hurting financially and the need to remember “we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”
The four paragraph statement, which was approved by the full conference of bishops at their Fall meeting today, begins with the bishops saying that they see “the many human and moral consequences of this crisis” being played out in dioceses across the country.
The bishops mention that they are seeing families losing their homes; retirement savings being threatened; workers losing jobs and health care; and many people “losing a sense of hope and security.”
Amidst this “complicated situation,” the bishops’ statement reminds people of the universal truth: “we are all children of God. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We all are in this together. Hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together.”
Despite the tough times, “the Catholic community will continue to reach out to those in need, stand with those who are hurt, and work for policies that bring greater compassion, accountability and justice to economic life,” the statement continues.
The bishops listed Americans’ needs by quoting from Pope Benedict’s 2008 Message for the World Day of Peace: “The family needs to have a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all.” These needs, the Pope said, must be addressed through public policy.
The U.S. bishops close their message by offering their prayers for “the families and individuals, our sisters and brothers, who are hurting, anxious or discouraged in these difficult times. We also pledge our prayers for our wounded nation and suffering world. We pray that, working together, we can find the courage, wisdom and ways to build an economy of prosperity and greater justice for all.”
At a press conference following the approval of the statement, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, who requested the statement, described how the faithful in his diocese have continued to suffer job losses and why he thought the message was needed. “I thought that this is the kind of statement of understanding and compassion, and also of solidarity of neighbor for neighbor, which I think is very important in these troubled times,” Bishop Blair said.
Archbishop George Niederauer, the U.S. bishops’ chairman of communications, also commented on the needs people have during times of economic difficulty: “historically, when there have been recessions and depressions, there’s an unfortunate thing that happens: just as people’s needs for services from charitable organizations [increases]…the funding for the resources can dry up.” So it is important for us—in terms of charitable services—to raise the consciousness of people, he said.