“Catholic Shopping?”
Trevor Thompson, Director of Pastoral Ministries
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

With the emergence of the Tea Party over the past several years, and more recently with Occupy Wall Street, grassroots movements are emerging that are addressing concerns about economic disparity, American democracy, and the role of government.  There is no denying that many are frustrated, and despite their varied means of protest and divergent set of demands, what they share in common is a dream of a fairer and more just society.  Through the Catholic Church’s rich reflection on scripture and history and her long-standing involvement in areas like ethics, economics, politics, and law, we have a social teaching that helps shape our understanding, participation, and commitment to how this fairer and more just society might emerge.  The application of the distilled wisdom of the Church (often referred to as the principles of Catholic Social Teaching) in complicated economic and political situations is a very delicate matter.  Although no principle can be applied in a “one-size-fits-all” fashion, it is important nonetheless that we consider how we live lives consistent with our deepest Christian convictions.

Next weekend, we offer our 3rd annual gift market – Gift It Up!  With nearly ten vendors selling thousands of “Fair Trade” products, this is a beautiful opportunity to use our purchasing power in a way that supports our Catholic values.  At its heart, by building respectful, enduring relationships between consumers and laborers, Fair Trade is a grassroots movement to create a fairer and more just society.  Paul writes to Thessalonica today, “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  I still hold doubts about the words and convictions of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, but the following set of convictions that express the commitments at the heart of Fair Trade is something for which we all can give thanks to God. I hope to see a lot of Catholic shoppers, including you, at Gift It Up!

• Paying a fair wage in the local context;

• Offering employees opportunities for advancement;

• Providing equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged;

• Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices;

• Being open to public accountability;

• Building long-term trade relationships;

• Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context;

• Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible.