Signs Of the Times

  • July 7-14, 2014

    While billions have been spent on direct efforts to bring the worlds of the haves and the have-nots closer together, perhaps the largest movement in history of people out of abject poverty was achieved over the last three decades in China. In that socialist state, capitalist practices created vast riches for a few but also new wealth for millions of workers. The resulting improvements in living standards, however, were an almost collateral outcome, and they...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    While Congress has stalled on adopting an increase in the federal minimum wage, steps are being taken across the country to boost the income of low-wage workers. From Massachusetts and Vermont to Washington State and California, state legislators and city councils have either implemented or are negotiating minimum wage hikes. Despite concern from opponents to any wage increase, most legislators have come to see that the likely benefit to workers outweighs the cost to businesses.

  • July 7-14, 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on June 16 from Argentina of an order to pay a so-called vulture fund $1 billion. That decision lets two lower federal court rulings stand, and Argentina now must turn over information about its U.S. bank holdings. Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, said that because of this decision it is now open season on the assets of other heavily indebted poor countries.

  • July 7-14, 2014

    On World Refugee Day, June 20, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, called on the U.S. government to do more to assist Syrian refugees and to protect the rights of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.• Noting simply, “We need solidarity” to survive the deadly Ebola virus, the Rev. Peter Konteh, executive director of Caritas for the Archdiocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone, issued a prayer request on...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for diplomatic measures rather than a U.S. military response to the crisis facing Iraq as Islamist militants gain ground. In a letter to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, called upon the United States to urge Iraqi political leaders to “form an inclusive government” so that people who feel they have no voice in...

  • June 23-30, 2014

    Efforts to reform and professionalize Vatican financial services and oversight continued as Pope Francis dismissed the all-Italian five-member board that oversees the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency on June 5, in a move widely interpreted as a blow to the Vatican old guard. According to a Vatican statement, the pope named five experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace those who were removed from the board of the...

  • June 23-30, 2014

    The world financial system “has been built as a new idolatry,” charged Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, at a forum on June 3 in Washington, sponsored by the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies. During his keynote address, Cardinal Rodríguez issued a ringing endorsement of the church’s competency to critique economic systems. Some of the church’s critics ask: “What is the hierarchy...

  • June 23-30, 2014
  • June 23-30, 2014

    Catholic leaders have raised concerns that Latin American migrants are increasingly in danger of human rights violations, particularly the growing number of minors trying to make the trip from Central America to the United States alone. In a statement released on June 4, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S.

  • June 23-30, 2014

    As the United Nations reported that 480,000 people have fled after months of fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province, suicide bombings and clashes between security forces and militants killed 36 people on May 30.