“Society as a whole, acting through public and private institutions, has the moral responsibility to enhance human dignity and protect human rights. This does not mean that government has the primary or exclusive role, but it does have a positive moral responsibility in safeguarding human rights and ensuring that the minimum conditions of human dignity are met for all.” Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, United States Catholic Conference, 1986
It is the position of the Iowa Catholic Conference that government should give the needs of the poor and vulnerable special consideration.
Each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society and fundamental to Catholic social teaching. Because of the dignity of the human person, human rights such as housing, education and human services should be protected.
The Conference supports governmental assistance that strengthens families, encourages and rewards work, and protects all vulnerable children, born or unborn, including those with developmental disabilities. We support adequate funding for job training and child care. We also support efforts to create and preserve affordable housing units as well as rental assistance to low-income families.
The Catholic Church of Iowa is one of the leading social services organizations in the state, and we invite Catholics to offer their time, talent, and money for works of personal charity.
Economic concerns relating to families
In Catholic teaching, the principle of a living wage has long been integral to Catholic understanding of human work. Wages must be adequate for workers to provide for themselves and their families. We have a duty to work when we are able, not only so we can provide for our families and ourselves, but also to contribute to the common good through the fruits of our work. As Pope Francis reminds us, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.”
Therefore, the Church has steadfastly upheld that workers deserve fair and just wages and benefits, decent working conditions and the opportunity to organize. A just wage allows us to develop more fully as individuals, families, and even society as a whole. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2434)
A minimum wage is not the same as a living wage. However, the Iowa bishops have supported an increase in the minimum wage because of its current failure to provide sufficient resources for individuals to form and support families.
As leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities have said, “We write not as economists or labor market experts, but rather as pastors and teachers who every day, in our ministries and churches, see the pain and struggles caused by an economy that simply does not produce enough jobs with just wages. So many of our families find it increasingly difficult to afford basic needs, forcing some to take multiple jobs or, in desperation, even seek out predatory loans.”
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