100-plus bishops demand supply chain due diligence ‘now more than ever’

Workers unload medical supplies donated by the United Arab Emirates from an aircraft in Brasilia, Brazil, July 6, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 bishops from around the world have signed on to a statement seeking mandatory due diligence laws and regulations in the international supply chain. (CNS photo/Adriano Machado, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- More than 100 bishops from around the world have signed on to a statement seeking mandatory due diligence laws and regulations in the international supply chain.

As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, "particularly vulnerable to the worst impacts of the crisis are the millions of workers lower down the supply chain -- many of whom are women," the bishops said. "For instance, some big fashion brands and retailers have canceled orders and refused to pay for textiles already produced, resulting in millions of workers being sent home without pay, social security or compensation.

Advertisement

"Through their operations, irresponsible companies are complicit in acts of violence and suffering. We, Catholic leaders throughout the world, call on states to put an end to this," the bishops said in the statement, issued in early July.

"Now more than ever, we need mandatory supply chain due diligence to stop corporate abuse and guarantee global solidarity," they said.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

They added, "Irresponsible companies have long been involved in various abuses, by evading taxes that could serve to build and maintain public services such as hospitals or schools, by polluting our soils, water and air, or by being complicit in gross human rights violations around the world, like forced and child labor."

The statement said, "As bishops, we feel we have a moral and spiritual obligation to speak about the urgency of reordering the priorities."

The bishops signing the statement hail from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Among the prelates signing was Archbishop Roberto O. Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

The bishops quoted from Pope Francis' encyclical "Evangelii Gaudium": "Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility."

They also cited his message to the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, last January: "The overriding consideration, never to be forgotten, is that we are all members of the one human family. The moral obligation to care for one another flows from this fact, as does the correlative principle of placing the human person, rather than the mere pursuit of power or profit, at the very center of public policy."

The bishops noted a February report by the European Commission that "voluntary measures are failing," and a 2019 German government study that found "less than 20% of German companies conduct human rights due diligence, despite (it) being a requirement in international frameworks for almost a decade."

The statement said, "We call on all governments to uphold their obligations under international law to protect human rights and prevent corporate abuses." Laws, the bishops said, "should introduce mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence, that is, to identify, assess, stop, prevent and mitigate the risks and violations to the environment and all human rights throughout the supply chains of businesses, and to substantially improve the possibilities of affected people to claim for compensation in national civil courts."

"The coronavirus crisis," the bishops said, "should be taken as an opportunity to start a just transition and to put in place a new economic system that serves people and the planet first."

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore all of America’s in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic]

Advertisement

The latest from america

Due to his unrelenting defense of the indigenous population and peasants struggling for land ownership, Bishop Casaldaliga was seen as an enemy by land barons, miners and loggers.
These would be the “first priests of the pandemic generation,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said during a socially distanced gathering outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
A protester holds a sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2019, after the court ruled against adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. (CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters) 
The Covid-19 pandemic and skepticism of the federal government are forcing Latino leaders to get creative in promoting this year's census, reports J.D. Long-García.
J.D. Long-GarcíaAugust 10, 2020
(iStock/SDI Productions)
A federal court recently ruled that access to a “foundational level of literacy” is a basic right. That could spur new reforms to public education, as well as new school-choice options.
Joseph J. DunnAugust 10, 2020