Scripture, Canada and the health care debate

The U.S. bishops' health care Web site, (CNS photo)

The U.S. bishops' health care Web site, (CNS photo)

Health care reform in the United States has gone from heated debate to raging firestorm over the past couple of months. The smoke is drifting north of the border into our sister nation, Canada. During the discussions about what universal health care in the U.S. might look like, many have held up the Canadian system for praise as a good model or ridicule as a bad one. Either way, there always has been a lot of  back and forth across the U.S.-Canadian border for medical treatments and medicines. Some are easier to get here or cheaper there, depending upon the one’s illness, insurance and personal needs or desires.

Many viewers of Salt + Light Television, Canada’s largest Catholic media operation, and an excellent one, and readers of The Catholic Register, a national Catholic Canadian newspaper based in Toronto, have wondered how Americans might view the “socialized medicine” available in Canada and if Canadian Catholics might help inform the U.S. debate in a helpful way.

Basilian Father Tom Rosica, a Scripture scholar, theologian and seminary professor, who happens to be president of Salt + Light, penned this piece on the health care debate in this week’s Catholic Register. In it, he reflects on the responsibility of all Christians to care for those in need, as well as for unborn children and the elderly.

Sometimes it helps to see how Catholics in other lands, especially our closest neighbor, see our important struggle and reflect upon their own decision to provide universal health care to their citizens.

(Father Rosica, also based in Toronto, was recently named by Pope Benedict XVI a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.)

Fair Trade Month promotes human dignity

Nicaraguan women sort coffee beans on a conveyor belt under Catholic Relief Services' fair trade project. (Courtesy of Catholic Relief Services)

Nicaraguan women sort coffee beans on a conveyor belt under Catholic Relief Services' fair trade project. (Courtesy of Catholic Relief Services)

October is Fair Trade Month.

It’s a month set aside to stress the importance of human dignity in the production of goods and services while promoting the diversity of products available from around the world.

“Fair Trade Month is a way to respond to the call of our faith to respect the dignity of people in other countries,” Jill Rauh, outreach coordinator in the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Catholic News Service.

Fair trade allows workers to receive a fair wage for their labor, she said.

“When we support fair trade we are allowing our purchasing power to support people who have been paid a fair wage,” Rauh said. “We’re supporting local communities.”

The campaign to promote fairly traded goods truly is a grass-roots effort. There are no big advertising budgets and no glossy ads to influence people to support farmers, artists and craft makers in developing countries.

Instead, parishes and local justice organizations promote fair trade through small craft fairs and by setting up information tables at conferences and other gatherings. Such events showcase the unique talents of local people.

Catholic Relief Services offers a host of resources on fairly traded products. Other online resources include the aptly named Fair Trade Month site and Fair Trade Towns USA.