Free but Moral Trade

When entering trade agreements, the United States should support principles that “defend human life and dignity, protect the environment and public health, and promote justice and peace in our world,” wrote the bishops who oversee the justice and peace committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter dated July 19 to the new U.S. trade representative Michael Froman. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, echoed the call of Pope Francis in his letter to G-8 leaders, that “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.” The bishops highlighted several areas of concern in free trade agreements, including labor protections, care for indigenous people, the need to alleviate causes of migration, protection of agriculture in developing and rural areas and sustainable development and care for creation.

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