The economy must serve people, and not the other way around. All persons have a right to dignified work, and to fair wages and working conditions. Work is more than a way to make a living: it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation.
Global interconnectedness has led to the emergence of a new political power, that of consumers and their associations. This is a phenomenon that needs to be further explored, as it contains positive elements to be encouraged as well as excesses to be avoided. It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral — and not simply economic — act. Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in- hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise. Consumers should be continually educated regarding their daily role, which can be exercised with respect for moral principles without diminishing the intrinsic economic rationality of the act of purchasing. In the retail industry, particularly at times like the present when purchasing power has diminished and people must live more frugally, it is necessary to explore other paths: for example, forms of cooperative purchasing like the consumer cooperatives that have been in operation since the nineteenth century, partly through the initiative of Catholics… A more incisive role for consumers, as long as they themselves are not manipulated by associations that do not truly represent them, is a desirable element for building economic democracy.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate 66
Examples in action:
Rather than spending money on shipping items from Canada, the items used for emergency relief are purchased locally or regionally, which helps to stimulate the local economy, while ensuring as much money goes to direct aid as possible. It is also more responsible ecologically, as transportation leaves an important footprint on this planet.
The T-shirts Development and Peace orders for THINKfast and other initiatives are fair trade, from the seed of the cotton plant through to the sewing of the garment. This means that the producers and workers receive a fair wage for their work, are supported by safe working conditions and not exposed to harmful industrial chemicals.
We support the work of cooperatives, unions, and micro-finance initiatives (particularly for women) in places such as Gaza, Afghanistan, Haiti and the Philippines. In addition, our staff in Canada are also part of a union.