From Crisis to Hope

The Irish Catholic Bishops have pubished a document called "From Crisis to Hope: Working to achieve the Common Good".

The full text is available by clicking here "From Crisis to Hope".

According to the statement, the common good will only be served to the extent that a major effort is made to restore trust in our institutional framework

i) through attention to the place of ethics in governance

ii) by acknowledging that the common good is damaged by economic policies that target the most vulnerable in our society.

In this context, and notwithstanding the need to ensure competitiveness in service industries, there are questions to be asked regarding the reduction in the minimum wage announced in the Republic's budget for 2011  - €40 per week - almost 12% of annual income and which affects mainly migrants who are not represented by unions and have no power.

There are many other issues which surface once the common good is invoked. These include:

  • the relationship between public services and taxation: can we have European standards of public services on taxes that are appreciably lower than most of our continental neighbours?
  • the balance between equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes; equality of opportunity is of course a public good. However, not everyone is endowed with good health or even the same talents and therefore a more equal society will never be truly fostered in the absence of a concern for equality of outcomes;
  • an incomes policy informed by the principle of solidarity. Such a policy would find it difficult to countenance the present position whereby large six figure salaries continue to be awarded to senior executives of semi-state companies at the same time as €40/week is cut off the minimum wage;
  • issues surrounding respect for the rights of migrant workers and their spouses - employment and family reunification issues which clearly flow from the idea of a global common good remain to be resolved;
  • responsible use of the earth's resources, taking into account the needs of the world's poorest and future generations; 
  • finally, an acceptance of the global common good obliges us, even in times of economic difficulty, to maintain levels of Overseas Development Aid and protect the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable throughout the world.

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