Volume > Issue > A Critique of the Second Draft

A Critique of the Second Draft

CHRIST & NEIGHBOR

By John C. Cort | May 1986

The second draft of the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on Catholic social teaching and the U.S. economy is on the whole a magnificent statement. I am especially grateful that the bishops held firm on the major points of the first draft, despite the critical barrage directed at them by Michael Novak and his band of merry capitalists.

Nevertheless, I think there are internal contra­dictions in the second draft that weaken it serious­ly. Two, to be exact, as follows:

(1) Again and again, and rightly so, the bish­ops emphasize the right to work, not in the per­verted sense of a right to work in a nonunion shop, but the right of everyone to a decent job at decent pay. They also add the duty to work, a duty much ignored by a society in which the idle rich are more likely to be described as “the beautiful people.”

The bishops solidly document the failure of private industry to provide decent jobs and they conclude that “current levels of unemployment are morally unacceptable,” particularly so in the case of minorities (34 percent for black youth).

Again and again, and rightly so, the bishops emphasize the long-established and repeated princi­ple of Catholic social teaching that the state must intervene when private industry is unable to pro­vide fundamental human rights.

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