US Bishops Ask Congress to Remember Human Dignity in Trade Deals

Cite Francis' Call for Economic Theories That Provide Every Inhabitant of the Planet With 'Minimum Wherewithal to Live in Dignity and Freedom'

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As Congress has the opportunity to consider and ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in the year ahead, it should remember principles that defend human life and dignity, said the bishops who chair the Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“While the USCCB does not take positions for or against particular trade agreements, we would like to take this opportunity to offer principles for your consideration that defend human life and dignity, protect the environment and public health, and promote justice and peace in our world,” wrote Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a letter Thursday to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Archbishop Wenski, who chairs the Domestic committee, and Bishop Pates, who chairs the International one, highlighted several areas of concern, including: worker rights, indigenous people, migration, agriculture, sustainable development, care for creation, dispute resolution mechanisms and participation by the people in decisions that will impact them.

The bishops quoted Pope Francis’ June 17 message to the G-8 summit, “Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.”

Full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/trade/upload/joint-letter-to-house-ways-and-means-and-senate-finance-on-trade-principles-2014-01-16.pdf