Benedict calls for "Redistribution of Wealth."

Pope Benedict has released his message for the World Day of Peace, focusing on "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace." Deep in the text, he reiterates a theme firmly rooted in Catholic tradition--that the needs of the poor have a claim on the wealth of those who have more than they need. Here goes:

In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution.

He doesn't (indeed, shouldn't,) spell out the specifics of such wealth redistribution, but merely framing it as a matter of urgency in education seems to lift such far beyond a mere exhortation to charitable giving. The expanding wealth gap between rich and poor would seem to indicate that charitable giving alone cannot suffice--after all, that's why one would ask for "adequate mechanisms" and call it redistribution of wealth in the first place. Now the ball's in the USCCB's court. They asked that the federal budget not ignore the poor. Perhaps now they can up the ante, and ask for a real examination into "adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth," in the US. We KNOW that cutting taxes on millionaires doesn't achieve this. So...

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).

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