Catholic Bishops Talk About Agriculture
Solidarity and Subsidiarity
Recently, religion seems to have become just a tool for hate-filled politicians to use to manipulate gullible people. However, some people actually hold deep religious beliefs and have formed some interesting views based on those.
We have an example for you. Here are excerpts from last autumn's "pastoral letter" from the Catholic bishops of the United States.
U.S. agriculture has demonstrated remarkable productivity and quality, thanks to the hard work, skills and sacrifices of farmers and farmworkers. U.S. agriculture has given Americans and the world plentiful food, fiber and other products at affordable prices. However, we live in a world where many are still hungry. We live in a nation where many family farmers are still struggling and where many have lost farms in recent decades. We live in a society where many farmworkers are still denied the opportunity to live a decent life.
We are also facing new challenges: for example, increasing concentration at every level of agriculture, increasing focus on agricultural trade as a measure of economic vitality and increasing globalization tying together lives and livelihoods wherever we live. Fewer people are making important decisions that affect far more people than in the past.
These choices have serious moral implications and human consequences. These forces of increasing concentration and growing globalization are pushing some ahead and leaving others behind. They are also pushing us toward a world where the powerful can take advantage of the weak, where large institutions and corporations can overwhelm smaller structures and where the production and distribution of food and the protection of land lie in fewer hands...
Solidarity is bothg a principle of Catholic social teaching and a virtue to practice. We live in a shrinking world. Disease, economic forces, capital and labor cross national boundaries; so must our care for all the children of God. We are part of one human family, wherever we live. Starvation and widespread hunger indict us as believers. It may be tempting to turn away from the world and its many challenges. However, the Gospel and our Catholic heritage point to another way, a way that sees others as sisters and brothers no matter how different or how far away they are. Agriculture today is a global reality in a world that is not just a market. It is the home of one human family.
Our interdependence, as expressed by the principle of solidarity, leads us to support the development of organizations and institutions at the local, national and international levels. Solidarity is comnplemented by the concept of subsidiarity, which reminds us of the limitations and responsibilities of these organizations and institutions. Subsidiarity defends the freedom of initiative of every member of society and affirms the essential role of these various strcutures.
In the words of John Paul II, subsidiarity asserts that "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." In the case of agriculture, solidarity and subsidiarity lead us to support and promote smaller, family-run farms not only to produce food but also to provide a livelihood for families and to form the foundation of rural communities.
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