Villanova University was honored to have Senator Patrick Toomey address the graduating class of 2013 at commencement on May 19. Though he is a Catholic, Senator Toomey unfortunately missed the opportunity to share how the Catholic ideals taught at Villanova have inspired him and might inspire the graduating Villanova Wildcats.
As an economics major, I was intrigued that Senator Toomey’s address was essentially a treatise on laissez-faire economics. He promoted a significant faith in unbridled capitalism, though it was of a type that lacks any measurement of its ability to protect and promote human dignity. Capitalism must be judged carefully when, according the World Bank, one out of every three deaths worldwide is related to poverty.
The Catholic emphasis on human dignity teaches us that as every person is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, he or she is both entitled to the right to achieve his or her full potential and responsible to work toward that end. While “human dignity” is the term used in Catholic doctrine, it is clear that, as economist E.F. Schumacher pointed out, it is “shared by all the higher teachings of mankind.” It is the basic premise for nearly any ethical claim.
To be clear, I’m not here advocating an economic policy that could be considered more liberal; I am only pointing out that any economic policy is subject to ethical ideals. Whether it is Senator Toomey himself or graduating Villanova students, everyone of every faith is morally obligated to uphold human dignity.
The Senator’s authority to influence the lives of millions gives him a special opportunity and responsibility to do this. A clear example is that of poverty-focused foreign assistance — foreign aid not tied to military or political ends that has a clear focus on ending both short- and long-term violations of human dignity.
Mobilizing like-minded Catholics throughout the country, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international relief and development agency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has long protected human dignity by implementing programs among the world’s poorest. In its advocacy campaigns, it seeks the preservation and strengthening of international disaster assistance, emergency and longer-term migration and refugee assistance, Title II food assistance, as well as funding for the Syrian refugee crisis. In addition, funding for global health concerns such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and general maternal and child health/survival is indispensable. While it sounds like a lot of money, all poverty-focused foreign assistance represents less than one-half of one percent of the overall federal budget.
I support this based on the Catholic belief of human dignity, and I would urge Senator Toomey to do the same. Though he missed his chance to promote Catholic ideals to the Villanova class of 2013, I hope he takes them into account in his future voting decisions.
Bates is a senior economics major (class of 2014) at Villanova University, where he is also a Catholic Relief Services ambassador.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103