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"Growing apart": the rise of inequality.

Economic inequality is rising in the United States and across the globe. (1) In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the top 20 percent of Americans experienced much faster income growth than the bottom 80 percent over a period of 30 years, and that incomes for the richest 1 percent of Americans grew fastest of all. (2) While this is a stark disparity, inequality in wealth (the total of a person's accumulated riches minus debts) is even greater than income inequality. The wealthiest 1 percent of US households controls 35.4 percent of all wealth, while the bottom 90 percent of households combined holds only 23.3 percent. (3) As the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, states, "We were growing together for the first three decades after World War II, but for the last three decades we have been growing apart." (4)

The pace of inequality is increasing worldwide. In the mostly affluent nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), "excluding the mitigating effects of the welfare state ... inequality has increased more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve." (5) And, of course, not only wealthy nations but also still developing countries struggle with great inequality between the haves and the have-nots. (6) This said, it might give many US Americans pause to note that many still-developing nations report much lower levels of inequality than the United States does. Countries with lower inequality than the United States, as measured by the Gini index and reported in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Factbook, include Kenya, India, the Philippines, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, and Egypt. (7)

Does Economic Inequality Matter?

In 1979, neoconservative author Irving Kristol dismissed inequality as a social problem, denying that any empirical evidence proves inequality to be an important issue. (8) Today, a sizable amount of empirical data reveals the significance of inequality in a number of realms.

Inequality and Economic Growth

For many years economists saw inequality as the price to pay for a dynamic and efficient economy. (9) As long as the middle and lower sectors of the economy were rising, there was no reason to be concerned if the elites were moving up faster. Lately, however, economists suggest that concentrations of income and wealth among the highest earners bring a variety of problems.

Growing inequality results in depression of demand as most people have less spending power. Inequality also creates inflationary credit bubbles as the wealthy turn a substantial percentage of their wealth into investment, not consumption. This helps explain the huge increase in financial services as a segment of the American economy because new financial products are invented to use the elite's surplus. (10)

Two officials of the International Monetary Fund, Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry, argue that inequality is an important factor affecting growth. They find clear evidence that significant income inequality cuts growth cycles short. (11)

Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz notes four reasons why "inequality is squelching our recovery." First, the middle class can no longer support the consumer spending that historically has driven economic growth. Second, pressure on middleclass people renders them unable to invest in their family's future through education and small business expansion. Third, the middle class does not provide the tax revenues government needs to make national investments in infrastructure, education, health, and basic research leading to future economic strength. Finally, inequality is "associated with more frequent and more severe boom-and-bust cycles" that make economic life volatile and uncertain. (12)

Beginning with the 1970s, as earnings for middle- and lower-income households stagnated, people started borrowing to finance their living standards. Mounting credit-card debt was one sign of this, as was the purchase of expensive homes in the expectation that housing prices would keep rising at rates that allowed borrowing through second or third mortgages. The political response to the income stagnation was deregulation, leading to increased access to easy credit as banks made ever-riskier loans. When the housing bubble burst, millions faced the pain of a major recession from which we have not yet recovered.

Inequality and Politics

In 1995 Kay Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry Brady made the case that democratic governance requires that citizens' voices be loud, clear, and equal. (13) Loud to ensure that public officials will pay attention; clear so that public officials understand what citizens want; and equal so that officials will be properly responsive to the interests of all citizens.

In a follow-up to their earlier work, the three political scientists examine how inequality in voice undermines American democracy. (14) It has long been known that individual participation in the political process is stratified by class, but recently class-based interest group political activity is widening. For example, groups representing for-profit corporations outnumber groups representing labor unions by a factor of 50 to 1. Almost three-fourths of all lobbying expenditures stem from business-related organizations. One can safely presume that the Supreme Court's 2010 decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, will further distort the issue of political voice.

The authors offer five reasons why equality in political voice is a democratic value. First is the equal protection of interests. Citizens have diverse goals and interests, and without equal voice there is the risk that some citizens' views will be overlooked, while others' views will dominate public discussion. Second, political voice confers a sense of agency and belonging. Democratic citizenship is not simply a means to an end but a good in itself. It affirms that each person has an equal right to be self-governing and to take part in collective decisions. Third, participating in the political system is educational, helping form people who learn respect for others, independent judgment, and competence in assessing the worth of proposed goods and the means to obtain them. Fourth, when people work together they learn social trust, norms for cooperation, and the ability to move beyond narrow self-interest to envision common goods. Such a process implies equal standing in building community. Finally, there is political legitimacy. Politics inevitably involves winners and losers. Why would losers accept unwanted outcomes unless they believed that the rules of democratic process were followed and the rules were fair? "Process justifies outcomes," and political legitimacy "depends on a belief in the fairness of political processes, which, in turn, depends on the equality of political voice." (15)

Taken to its extreme, dramatic economic inequality leads to plutocracy, defined by Francis Fukuyama as "rule by the rich and for the rich." That is, "a state of affairs in which the rich influence government in such a way as to protect and expand their own wealth and influence, often at the expense of others." (16) With that in mind, Robert Lieberman argues against presuming that market forces alone are responsible for hyper-concentration of wealth in the United States. Present trends of inequality are not simply a natural consequence of market changes, since policy changes have "tilted the economic playing field toward the rich." Tax-rate cuts and changes in the treatment of capital gains and other forms of investment income have resulted in significant financial gains among the wealthiest. At the same time, labor law has made it harder to organize workers, corporate governance decisions have dramatically changed compensation policies for executives, and the deregulation of financial markets and banks has further abetted the rise of inequality. (17)

Nina Eliasoph cites various ways that inequality skews our politics, including the growth of "astroturf organizations," faux populist groups largely financed by wealthy individuals, or corporations that portray themselves as representing the interests of the grass roots. There is as well the impact of mass media providing a megaphone for the voices of the affluent to shape the public agenda with the aid of think tanks, public relations consultants, and other communications professionals hired by those who can afford them. (18)

Inequality and American Public Culture

Robert Reich once bemoaned "the secession of the successful." The affluent remove themselves from public life by purchasing private services rather than publicly funded ones. This can include private security guards rather than police, country clubs instead of parks, private academies not public schools, and more. (19) And as the rich avoid public services, they also resist paying for them through taxes, so the quality of public services goes into decline.

Reich maintains that the economy depends on public morality, "some shared standards about what sorts of activities are impermissible because they so fundamentally violate trust that they threaten to undermine the social fabric." He thinks there has been a "steady decline in the willingness of people in leading positions in the private sector--on Wall Street and in large corporations especially--to maintain those minimum standards." (20) The junk bond scandal of the 1980s, the speculation of the 1990s leading to the "dotcom bubble," the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act separating investment banking from commercial banking, Enron and corporate looting scandals in the first decade of the century, along with the credit boom and housing bubble leading up to the recession--these are all evidence of the decline in social responsibility among economic elites.

Steven Pearlstein echoes Reich: when "Wall Street bankers and traders think it is just 'part of the game' to peddle dangerous loans or worthless securities to unsuspecting customers," or when "top executives have convinced themselves that it is economically necessary that they earn 350 times what their front-line workers do," then we find a system "whose trust deficit is every bit as corrosive and dangerous as its budget and trade deficits." (21)

George Packer also maintains that the plutocratic political process has been precipitated by "deeper changes in norms of responsibility and self-restraint." For example, it was economically possible and legal in the 1960s for
   an executive to award himself a multimillion dollar bonus while
   shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors
   to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have
   wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed--any more
   than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur
   or photographed with a paid escort. (22)

Packer believes there was a "social arrangement" in the United States put in place in the 1930s. He calls it "middle-class democracy," a "social contract among labor, business, and government--between the elites and the masses." This contract made sure that the benefits of economic growth were widely distributed and prosperity was shared. As recently as the 1970s, corporate executives earned 40 times as much as their lowest paid employees; by 2007 the ratio was over 400 to 1. The social contract was enforced by labor laws and government policies that kept a balance between the power of workers and owners, as well as tax codes that restrained the creation of an inherited plutocracy. But it was also built on a sense of solidarity that allowed the rich to imagine the lives of others. (23)

Inequality and Equal Opportunity

Historically, Americans have tolerated economic inequality because of their strong belief in the possibility of upward mobility, which justified existing inequality as the result of talents and efforts, and also held out a promise to the poor that they might succeed if they used their abilities diligently. Despite significant economic inequality the United States was viewed as more socially equal, more diverse and democratic, and especially better at providing equality of opportunity than other nations. (24)

The current divide between rich and poor now threatens that outlook. Equality of opportunity is "increasingly tied to education, and educational performance is tied to income and wealth. When it comes to social mobility between generations, the United States ranks near the bottom of developed nations." (25) The inequality gap makes having successful parents, "if not essential, certainly a central part of the recipe" for success. (26) A child's prospects are less fluid in the United States than in a large number of economically advanced countries, including France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany, along with the traditionally more equal nations of Scandinavia. (27)

The key indicator for equal opportunity is relative intergenerational mobility, "a person's position on the income ladder relative to his or her parents' position." (28) Most social scientists would agree that there has been a decline in equality of opportunity, understood as the ability of someone born in the lowest income quintile to move up to the second or first quintile, or the risk that someone born in the highest quintile would move down to the lowest. As inequality has grown, mobility has diminished.

There are multiple reasons for the decline in mobility, including important changes in American family life, but "five large studies in recent years" clearly reveal "the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations." (29) The empirical evidence suggests that middle America remains fluid, with substantial numbers moving up and others moving down. "Stickiness" is characteristic of the top and bottom quintiles, however, "as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor families stay trapped." (30)

Remedial Action

Various approaches have been proposed for remedying the evils of inequality. Some commonly cited strategies are: implementation of a tax on wealth rather than income, an immediate rise in the minimum wage and then indexing it to inflation, making college more affordable, and reforming labor legislation to make forming unions easier.

When the US Catholic bishops focused their 2013 Labor Day letter on inequality, they concurrently released a web video that called income inequality "a Catholic concern" and offered government-based solutions like ending wage theft, raising the minimum wage, and indexing it to inflation. (31)

New and growing evidence suggests that "a nurturing environment in the early years combined with accessible and high-quality health care and education promote the capacities of young children, heighten the development of their skills as they grow older, and ultimately raise their chances of upward mobility." (32) Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has warned of a "lifelong impact" of starting out in the lowest quintile with inferior educational, nutritional, and health resources. This impact argues for quality interventions early in a poor child's life, as these "have a high benefit/cost ratio to society." (33)

This strategy has received strong support from Nobel Laureate James Heckman who complains that what is missing in current public policy debates is "serious discussion about investing in effective early-childhood development from birth to age 5." He argues that what is being ignored is "the critical gap in skills between advantaged and disadvantaged children that emerges long before they enter school." (34)

Heckman acknowledges that good early childhood care is expensive, but he has empirical evidence that it more than pays for itself with improved economic, health, and educational outcomes. He maintains that "high-quality early childhood programs are great economic and social equalizers--they supplement the family lives of disadvantaged children by teaching consistent parenting and by giving children the mentoring, encouragement and support available to functioning middle-class families." Children placed in such programs "develop foundational skills on par with those of more affluent children." (35) The significance of this result is clear since "the life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country for which there is data." (36) Yet early childhood care and education programs are being cut back precisely at the time we are seeing strong evidence that such programs are vital to secure equality of opportunity for the next generation. (37)

Because of the polarization in political life, one might be tempted to despair of seeing effective government action to reduce inequality. Yet a recent study offers a glimmer of hope. In an extensive project sponsored by Harvard Business School, thousands of Americans were asked to estimate the levels of wealth inequality by quintiles. They were then asked to envision what would be the ideal wealth distribution by quintiles in the United States if they were in a situation of Rawls's veil of ignorance. The results--and these remained true even if the respondents were grouped by political party affiliation, gender, or income--is that Americans "vastly underestimate the level of inequality in America," and that people "are actually in agreement about wanting a more equal distribution of wealth." (38)

Review of Ethical Literature

Despite increasing concern about inequality from social scientists, theological books and articles focusing on inequality remain relatively rare, and while Catholic theologians widely deplore both poverty and inequality, few distinguish clearly between those related evils. (39) One exception is Chilean theologian Tony Mifsud, who urges Christians to move beyond poverty to address inequality, both to better attend to concerns of the faithful and to work toward more sustainable solutions. (40)

Is Inequality Wrong?

Catholic scholars do not unanimously claim that inequality is always wrong. Albino Barrera develops a theodicy of economic scarcity, arguing that scarcity is not part of God's plan, but that it allows us to act as cocreators with God by redistributing economic goods. (41) Dennis McCann uses the US bishops' pastoral Economic Justice for All (1986) to suggest that inequality becomes immoral "if, and only if, it ... marginalizes persons and communities ... denying them access to appropriate levels of social participation." (42) Drawing on Amartya Sen's capabilities approach, Andrew M. Yuengert asserts that while material goods often mediate participation in social life, "inequality in itself is not morally offensive, as long as those at the bottom of the distribution have a dignified standard of living." (43) John Sniegocki argues that Catholic social thought exposes inequality as morally wrong, but urges scholars within the tradition to focus more on structural analyses, particularly capitalism's connections to inequality, militarism, and ecological destruction. (44)

Italian economist Stefano Zamagni warns that redistribution within the current economic model is insufficient to enable stable democracy:
   The endurance and reputation of democratic governments are
   determined much more by their ability to increase total wealth than
   to redistribute it fairly among citizens.... So if we want to
   combat the endemic increase in inequality as a threat to peace and
   democracy, we must act primarily on the production of wealth and
   income, not only its redistribution. (45)

Charles M. A. Clark notes that one increasingly popular method of wealth creation is shifting business costs onto workers or consumers. From a Catholic social thought perspective, he says, "wealth that is created for the individual at the expense of the community is repugnant to human dignity and the common good due to its promotion of poverty." (46)

Theologians from the Two-Thirds World

Theologians from developing nations are leading the charge in addressing inequality. (47) From India, John Mohan Razu reminds us that inequality has increased in poorer nations as well as in wealthier ones. Rather than increased aid from wealthier nations, Razu calls for fairer trade policies to address inequalities between nations. (48) From Nigeria, Olubiyi Adeniyi Adewale offers a compelling reading of the Gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31). In African belief, dogs who lick the sores of the suffering, as they did for Lazarus, contribute to healing. The passage thus suggests that those who are capable of helping the needy yet fail to do so are less than dogs, less than human. (49)

Tanzanian theologian Laurenti Magesa analyzes the thought of former president of the United Republic of Tanzania, and devout Catholic Julius Nyerere. Magesa shows how Nyerere throughout his life fought against unequal trade agreements for Africa; he was inspired by his belief that, in Magesa's words, "the practice of authentic Christianity ... must reorient society in a certain concrete direction, the direction of 'rebellion' against systems and structures that dehumanize people, and toward justice, human dignity and peace." (50)

Any cultural context offers both liberative and counterliberatory cultural currents. Nigerian theologian Paulinus Odozor believes high levels of inequality within many African countries are caused both by the external factors of destructive trade and development policies from Western countries and by some cultural patterns internal to African societies. These include the failure to recognize the humanity of those outside one's own close affiliations, and poor allocation of resources by those in government. (51)

Economic Inequality and Race in the United States

Scholars who use race in the US context as a primary lens have consistently paid attention to economic inequality. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Bryan Massingale diagnosed a "cultured indifference" to the poor unique to the US context, shaped by individualism, consumerism, and racism. He noted that "The option for the poor requires an understanding that social power and coercion are necessary for the achievement of justice.... It is a common belief among the victims of injustice that ... the socially privileged seldom surrender their privileges voluntarily." (52) This is particularly important in light of economic inequality, an issue so complex that any serious attempt to address it risks being viewed as coercion by some.

In addition to creating "cultured indifference" to poor people and people of color, racism helps maintain economic inequality, says Mary Elizabeth Hobgood, by misleading white US Americans about the extent of their own "economic disempowerment." (53) Alex Mikulich highlights the racial wealth gap in the United States, and criticizes Catholic social thought, including the US bishops' pastoral Economic Justice for All, for inadequate attention to the role of systemic racism in economic injustice. (54)

Inequality Shapes Communities

Theologians are beginning to explore how inequality shapes both communities and individuals. Lisa Sowle Cahill suggests that while inequality can destroy civic virtue, religious and social narratives and practices can strengthen support for greater equality. (55) Catherine Cowley proposes a view of money as "the vehicle of acknowledging our inter-responsibility and inter-dependency" so that we can help reduce inequality. (56) Magesa shows that an indigenous African communitarian ethic shares important benefits with Catholic social thought. Both ethics urge approaches of solidarity in response to inequality. (57) Eric Gregory argues that philosopher Peter Singer's moral requirement for the comfortable to give from their surplus to relieve others' need convincingly challenges traditional Christian arguments about the importance of proximity in acts of charity. (58) And Christine Firer Hinze finds that John A. Ryan, in his writings on just consumption, engaged both the need for redistribution to help the poor and the danger that overconsumption could encourage intemperance and harm the virtue of the wealthy. (59)

Recent Papal Teachings and Responses

Both Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have used their papacies to speak forcefully against inequality. In his encyclical Caritas in veritate, Benedict linked inequality to wasteful consumerism and corruption, calling it a "scandal" opposed to the dignity of the individual. He upheld the state's role in promoting widespread societal participation and reducing need through security programs. (60)

Francis has made global and intrasocietal inequality a theme of his pontificate, diagnosing a "throw-away culture" that violates human dignity. (61) In a speech to government officials, he blamed "ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to states, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good," and he urges "an economic reform to benefit everyone." (62)

Responses to Caritas in veritate furnish many perspectives on inequality. Charles McDaniel supports Benedict's critique of "financialization," whereby economic activity shifts away from producing goods and services in favor of ever more complex financial transactions, contributing to increasing inequality. (63) Matthew J. Slaughter links US inequality to a sobering decline in job access and quality, and hopes that Benedict's emphasis on love can help "individuals, businesses and government" discern a way forward. (64) Neil Ormerod, Paul Oslington, and Robin Koning retrieve Bernard Lonergan's understudied works on economics. Lonergan insisted that economic actors as well as governments should contribute to redistribution precisely because it supports a functioning economy. (65) From Zambia, Peter Henriot calls for "economics as if people mattered," showing how papal social teaching, including Caritas in veritate, supports that goal. (66)

More critically, while Nigerian theologian Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator finds much to praise in Caritas in veritate, he notes that aspects of the document unduly prioritize the West. For example, while Benedict XVI assumed "the decline of opposing blocs" of nation-states as global forces, Orobator points out that opposing blocs still exist in Africa and contribute to its economic troubles. (67)


If it were possible, without overstraining ecological resources, to raise the bottom living standard of everyone in the world to a basic level of capabilities and dignity, would it matter if the world's richest were stratospherically better off? We believe that it would, and that Catholic theologians would do well not to treat inequality and poverty as if they were one and the same, but to pay careful attention to the difference between the two. One major moral feature of inequality is the distance it creates between richest and poorest. Inequality is not simply a matter of the suffering of the poor, although we can never forget that, but a matter of the existence or failure of a community of mutual concern.

Decades ago, Drew Christiansen wrote a seminal essay in this journal that tracked the development of the idea of economic equality in Catholic social teaching. (68) The organic model of society emphasized people satisfying the duties of their station in life. Following a hierarchical social order was simply part of the cultural inheritance that Leo XIII accepted rather uncritically. (69) Equality in dignity was upheld, but the concept was not effectively translated into ideas concerning political, social, or economic equality. Leo desired a decent minimum for all based on distributive justice but did not entertain egalitarian justice as a social norm.

Over the course of the twentieth century, Catholic social teaching has evolved as awareness dawned that equality in dignity needed to be instantiated in the policies and structures of societies. Although contemporary Catholicism has not embraced a strict egalitarianism, it has shown a sensitivity to the relative nature of wealth and poverty with a concomitant interest in narrowing the gap between rich and poor. Standing behind this increased concern about inequality is the deep theory of modern Catholic social teaching: the "tacit intuition or vision that undergirds a conception of justice." (70) That vision is communitarian and gives high priority to solidarity as a necessary quality for a just society.

Practices fostering solidarity give expression to Catholic convictions about the nature of human life, of the church, and the role of the church in social life. As the bishops at Vatican II stated in Gaudium et spes, when quoting Lumen gentium: "For the promotion of unity belongs to the innermost nature of the church, since she is, 'by her relationship with Christ, both a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of all humankind.'" (71)

This theological vision of humanity as one family and the church as a sacrament of that unity serves as a backdrop to the principle of solidarity. This principle generates social virtues and moral norms that regulate political and economic life. Within the Catholic imagination the human good is related to the experience of communities that practice mutual respect and honor, promote common goods, and consider human flourishing to be secured by relationships that permit the sharing of benefits and burdens. This is why "justice as participation" is an authentic expression of the Catholic perspective on justice.

Huge discrepancies in wealth and income can create occasions for people to isolate themselves from one another. It is not hard to detect in contemporary political movements a lack of that solidarity whereby citizens contribute to public goods and services that may not directly benefit them. Solidarity is generated by a belief in the fundamental unity of the human family, and like other moral imperatives, it calls for conversion.

A commitment to the unity of the human family coupled with the stark reality of growing inequality gives urgency to a moral norm of relative equality. The point is not to eliminate all inequalities but to hold them within a range defined by moral limits. This norm invites further reflection from Catholic theologians in response to vast inequalities.


Kate Ward


(1.) There are different ways to speak about economic inequality, including but not limited to inequality of wealth, income, and life outcome. Since all these measures are relevant to moral theology, we address all of them, attempting to make clear distinctions.

(2.) Congressional Budget Office, "Trends in the Distribution of Household Income between 1979 and 2007" (October 2011) 11, All URLs cited were accessed on October 31, 2013.

(3.) Economic Policy Institute, "The State of Working America: Key Numbers: Inequality" (Economic Policy Institute, 2012),

(4.) Alan Krueger, "The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States," speech delivered at the Center for American Progress in Washington (January 12, 2012),

(5.) OECD, "Crisis Squeezes Income and Puts Pressure on Inequality and Poverty" (2013), -Inequality-and-Poverty-8p.pdf.

(6.) See, e.g., Anne Nangulu, "Poverty and Economic Justice," African Ecclesiastical Review 52 (2011) 248-63.

(7.) The World Factbook 2013-2014 (Washington: CIA, 2013),

(8.) Irving Kristol, "Some Personal Reflections on Economic Well-Being and Income Distribution" (Washington: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1980).

(9.) Arthur Okun, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade-off (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1975).

(10.) Jonathan Rauch, "Inequality and Its Perils," National Journal (September 17, 2012),

(11.) Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry, "Equality and Efficiency," Finance & Development48.3 (September, 2011) 12-15, at 15, See also these authors' later essay, "How Inequality Damages Economies," Foreign Affairs (January 6, 2012),

(12.) Joseph Stiglitz, "Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery," New York Times' (January 19, 2013),

(13.) Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry Brady, Voice and Equality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1995).

(14.) Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry Brady, The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy (Princeton, N J: Princeton University, 2012).

(15.) Ibid. 100. The entire paragraph above summarizes pages 98-101.

(16.) Francis Fukuyama, "Left Out," The American Interest 6.3 (2011), emphasis original,

(17.) Robert Lieberman, "Why the Rich Are Getting Richer," Foreign Affairs (January/ February, 2011),

(18.) Nina Eliasoph, The Politics of Volunteering (Malden, MA: Polity, 2013) 129-36.

(19.) Robert Reich, The Work of Nations (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1991) 268.

(20.) Robert Reich, "Robert Reich on Saving Capitalism and Democracy,"

(21.) Steven Pearlstein, "Can We Save American Capitalism?," Washington Post, August 31,2012, c7bb037a1d5b_print.html.

(22.) George Packer, "The Broken Contract," Foreign Affairs, October 11,2011,

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Nicholas Lemann, "Evening the Odds: A Critic at Large," New Yorker 88.10 (April 23, 2012),

(25.) Miles Corak, "Who's Your Daddy?," New York Times, July 20, 2013,

(26.) Ibid.

(27.) Miles Corak, "Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives 27.3 (2013) 79-102, at 82.

(28.) Lane Kenworthy, "It's Hard to Make It in America," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2012,

(29.) Jason DeParle, "Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs," New York Times, January 4, 2012,

(30.) Ibid.

(31.) Donald Clemmer, Income Inequality--A Catholic Concern,

(32.) Corak, "Who's Your Daddy?"

(33.) Jared Bernstein, "Inequality, Mobility and the Policy Agenda They Imply," New York Times, July 22, 2013,

(34.) James Heckman, "Lifelines for Poor Children," New York Times, September 14, 2013, http ://

(35.) Ibid.

(36.) Joseph Stiglitz, "Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth," New York Times, February 16, 2013,

(37.) Sean Riordan, "No Rich Child Left Behind," New York Times, April 27, 2013, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.eom/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind.

(38.) Dan Ariely, "Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don't Realize It)," Atlantic (August, 2012), they_just_dont_realize-it/260639. Also Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, "Building a Better America--One Wealth Quintile at a Time," Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (2011) 9-12.

(39.) We also recommend these recent works by non-Catholic scholars: Douglas A. Hicks, Money Enough: Everyday Practices for Living Faithfully in the Global Economy (New York: Wiley, 2010); John P. Atherton, Elaine L. Graham, and fan Steedman, eds., The Practices of Happiness: Political Economy, Religion, and Wellbeing (New York: Routledge, 2011); Keri Day, "Global Economics and US Public Policy: Human Liberation for the Global Poor," Black Theology 9 (2011) 9-33; Joshua Berman, "Created Equal: Main Claims and Methodological Assumptions," Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 10, art. 9 (2010),; Piet Naude, "Is Prophetic Discourse Adequate to Address Global Economic Justice?," Hervormde Teologiese Studies 67.1 (2011).

(40.) Tony Mifsud, "Moral Reflection in Latin America: Challenges and Proposals within the Chilean Reality," in Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church: The Plenary Papers from the First Cross-Cultural Conference on Catholic Theological Ethics, ed. James F. Keenan, S.J. (New York: Continuum, 2007) 131-37.

(41.) Albino Barrera, God and the Evil of Scarcity: Moral Foundations of Economic Agency (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 2005).

(42.) Dennis P. McCann, "Inequality in Income and Wealth: When Does It Become Immoral, and Why?," in Rediscovering Abundance: Interdisciplinary Essays on Wealth, Income, and Their Distribution in the Catholic Social Tradition, ed. Helen Alford, O.P., et. al. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 2006) 189-208, at 204.

(43.) Andrew M. Yuengert, "What Is 'Sustainable Prosperity for All' in the Catholic Social Tradition?," in The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life, ed. Daniel K. Finn (New York: Oxford University, 2010) 37-62.

(44.) John Sniegocki, Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Globalization: The Quest for Alternatives (Milwaukee: Marquette University, 2009).

(45.) Stefano Zamagni, "Catholic Social Thought, Civil Economy, and the Spirit of Capitalism," in True Wealth of Nations 63-94, at 81.

(46.) Charles M. A. Clark, "Wealth as Abundance and Scarcity: Perspectives from Catholic Social Thought and Economic Theory," in Rediscovering Abundance 28-56, at 51.

(47.) In this category, we also recommend essays by Clement Campos, C.Ss.R., John Mary Waliggo, and Vimal Timiranna, C.Ss.R, in Catholic Theological Ethics.

(48.) John Mohan Razu, "India Unleashed or India Leashed--Perspectives on Globalization and Inequality," Bangalore Theological Forum 37.2 (2005) 61-88.

(49.) Olubiyi Adeniyi Adewale, "An Afro-Sociological Application of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)," Black Theology 4 (2006) 27-43.

(50.) Laurenti Magesa, "Nyerere on Ujamaa and Christianity as Transforming Forces in Society," in Religion and Poverty: Pan-African Perspectives, ed. Peter J. Paris (Durham, NC: Duke University, 2009) 249-71.

(51.) Paulinus I. Odozor, "Truly Africa, and Wealthy! What Africa Can Learn from Catholic Social Teaching about Sustainable Economic Prosperity," in True Wealth of Nations 267-87.

(52.) Bryan N. Massingale, "The Scandal of Poverty: 'Cultured Indifference' and the Option for the Poor post-Katrina," Journal of Religion and Society, Supplement 4 (2008) 55-72, at 68,

(53.) Mary E. Hobgood, "White Economic and Erotic Disempowerment: A Theological Exploration in the Struggle against Racism," in Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence, ed. Laurie M. Cassidy and Alex Mikulich (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2007) 40-55, at 48.

(54.) Alex Mikulich, "Where Y' at Race, Whiteness, and Economic Justice? A Map of White Complicity in the Economic Oppression of People of Color," in The Almighty and the Dollar: Reflections on Economic Justice for All, ed. Mark Allman (Winona, MN: Anselm Academic, 2012) 189-211.

(55.) Lisa Sowle Cahill, Global Justice, Christology, and Christian Ethics (New York: Cambridge University, 2013) 264.

(56.) Catherine Cowley, "Money, Finance, and Morality in a Global Economy," New Blackfriars 86(2005)216-27, at 225.

(57.) Laurenti Magesa, "African Indigenous Spirituality, Ecology, and the Human Right to Integral Development," in 77ie World Market and Interreligious Dialogue, ed. Catherine Cornille and Glenn Willis (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011) 164-89.

(58.) Eric Gregory, "Agape and Special Relations in a Global Economy: Theological Sources," in Global Neighbors: Christian Faith and Moral Obligation in Today's Economy, ed. Douglas A. Hicks and Mark R. Valeri (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008) 16-42.

(59.) Christine Firer Hinze, "What Is Enough? Catholic Social Thought, Consumption, and Material Sufficiency," in Having: Property and Possession in Religious and Social Life, ed. William Schweiker and Charles T. Mathewes (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004) 162-88.

(60.) Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate (June 29, 2009), veritate_en.html.

(61.) For example, Pope Francis, "Visit to the Community of Varginha (Manguinhos): Address of Pope Francis" (July 25,2013), july/documents/papa-francesco_20130725_gmg-comunita-varginha_en.html.

(62.) Pope Francis, "Address of Pope Francis to the New Non-Resident Ambassadors to the Holy See: Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, Luxembourg and Botswana" (May 16, 2013), ambasciatori_en.html.

(63.) Charles A. McDaniel Jr., "'Theology of the 'Real Economy': Christian Economic Ethics in an Age of Financialization," Journal of Religion and Business Ethics 2.2 (2011) 1-29.

(64.) Matthew J. Slaughter, "Our Current Economic Situation," in The Moral Dynamics of Economic Life: An Extension and Critique of Caritas in Veritate, ed. Daniel K. Finn (New York: Oxford University, 2012) 18-22.

(65.) Neil Ormerod, Paul Oslington, and Robin Koning, S.J., "The Development of Catholic Social Teaching on Economics: Bernard Lonergan and Benedict XVI," Theological Studies 73 (2012) 391-421.

(66.) Peter J. Henriot, "Economics as if People Mattered," in Catholic Theological Ethics, Past, Present, and Future: The Trento Conference, ed. James F. Keenan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011) 247-56.

(67.) Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, "Caritas in Veritate and Africa's Burden of (Under) Development," Theological Studies 71 (2010) 320-34.

(68.) Drew Christiansen, S.J., "On Relative Equality: Catholic Egalitarianism After Vatican II," Theological Studies 45 (1984) 651-75.

(69.) Leo XIII, Rerum novarum no. 14,

(70.) Christiansen, "On Relative Equality" 668.

(71.) Vatican II, Gaudium et spes no. 42,

Author biographies

Kate Ward received her MDiv at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, and currently holds the Flatley Fellowship in theological ethics at Boston College, where her doctoral studies are focused on economic justice. Her article "Porters to Heaven: Wealth, the Poor, and Moral Agency in Augustine" is expected to appear in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Religions Ethics. In progress are articles on the morality of Adam Smith and the economic thought of Reinhold Niebuhr.

Kenneth R. Himes, O.F.M., received his PhD in religion and public policy from Duke University and is now associate professor of theological ethics in the Theology Department of Boston College. Specializing in Catholic social teaching, ethics of war and peace, and foundational moral theology, he has recently published Christianity and the Political Order (2013). His monograph Targeted Killing and the Ethics of Drone Warfare is scheduled to appear in 2015 from Rowman & Littlefield.

Corresponding authors:

Kenneth Himes, O.F.M.

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Author:Ward, Kate; Himes, Kenneth R.
Publication:Theological Studies
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2014
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