The policy interests of the Social and Economic Justice Department cut across all seven key themes of Catholic Social Teaching. The Department promotes public policy that:
- Recognizes that each person –especially the poor and marginalized – is precious and has inherent dignity; puts the needs of the poor and vulnerable first;
- Enhances the capacity of individuals to grow in community and participate in society;
- Affords all people the means to have their basic human needs met and recognizes society’s responsibility for securing those means;
- Respects the dignity of work and the rights of workers;
- Pursues justice and peace for all people;
- Protects all of God’s creation.
The Department’s interests can generally be broken down into six issue areas: dignity of work, environment, health care, human trafficking, immigration, and poverty. The Department pursues public policy that affords all people the things required to sustain life – health care, shelter, food, work, and other basic necessities in a manner that is caring of the environment. The Department also pursues public policy that protects religious freedom, especially with regard to Catholic hospitals and health care professionals. And the Department pursues public policy that treats both immigrants and victims of human trafficking with compassion and respect.
In his address to the 38th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Pope Francis stated that, “It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This, dear friends is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.” Through the public policy advocacy of the Social and Economic Justice Department, the Maryland Catholic Conference works to reflect the Church’s love for these very people.