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Economics, morality and the academic forum

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 6, 2006

This year’s Academic Forum coincides nicely with the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ letter “Economic Justice For All.” The bishops felt compelled to respond to the devastating effects of poverty they witnessed in the 1970s and 1980s. “That so many people are poor in a nation as rich as ours is a social and moral scandal that we cannot ignore” (No. 16). The Economic Pastoral continues to challenge and encourage American Catholics.

It calls each of us at Notre Dame to consider the economy, in all its elements, as subject to the demands of morality; to make ourselves aware of the concrete realities imposed on the poor; and, most importantly, the letter calls us to “conversion and common action, to new forms of stewardship, service, and citizenship” (No. 27).

Does the U.S. economy serve the needs of persons (especially the poor), or do people serve the economy? Do we, as individuals and as a University, participate in the U.S. economy in a way that builds community and solidarity in our world?

In “Economic Justice for All,” the bishops intended to make available the riches of Scripture and Tradition so that we might think more creatively about the plight of the poor and the complexities of the economy. They call us to pop the “Notre Dame bubble,” and to become aware of what life is like for the destitute in South Bend and beyond. If you have not yet, consider participating in one of the many opportunities offered by the Center for Social Concerns that try to move us toward solidarity.

We desperately need liberation from ideologies and quick fix policies. The 20th anniversary of the economic pastoral gives us an opportunity to subvert sound bytes and address core problems. Let’s read this document together, study it, pray over it, and work out how best to live it.

How can the pastoral guide our research, shape our programs, liturgies, dorm programming, and service? The upcoming Academic Forum is a great first step to meet this challenge. Make sure you attend.

Sean Agniel

grad student

off campus

Sept. 5