World Trade Organization and Catholic Social Teaching
Fr. Peter Daly
After the riots in
The riots and the property damage were wrong, but there was a valid point to be made, as President Clinton himself pointed out in his speech to the WTO.
The point was this. There is a lot more to be considered in the globalization of the economy than the making of money. The talks between un-elected bureaucrats, corporate moguls and government agencies have to focus on more than just taxes and tariffs, trade barriers and subsidies. They have to focus on people and what the economy does to the lives of people.
This point is nothing new. The church has been making this point for
over one hundred years in a great tradition of Catholic social teaching. Unfortunately, hardly anybody, at least in
Every since Pope Leo XIII wrote an
encyclical on the condition of labor and condemned the exploitation of workers
and defended their right to organize, the church has done a lot of reflecting
on the question of what makes a society and an economy "moral." Pius XI, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II
have all written extensively on the "social question." The words of the encyclicals have changed
lives and galvanized movements. It is no
accident that the workers' movement that liberated
The fact that the two most
important negotiators for the
The lack of the moral dimension in these trade talks, which affect every human being on earth, is sad. The lack of familiarity with the moral teaching of the church on such things as worker rights, slave labor, protection of the environment and the preservation of the family, on the part of Catholic schools graduates is a missed opportunity to change the world. We have something important to say on this point and we have thought it out over the past 100 years.
The current trade negotiations show the importance of teaching our own people in our own schools the great Catholic Social Teaching. We need to do a better job teaching the social issues of the church in the classroom, so that the moral questions will have a place at the negotiating table. There are some things about an economy that cannot be measured in money or units of production.