As both a Franciscan priest and citizen, I am deeply concerned about the impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership might have on the common good. Christians everywhere are called to speak out against suffering and injustice wherever it may be. Therefore, when political and economic decisions surrounding the TPP involve major repercussions for the most vulnerable of society, Christians are morally obligated to respond via a faith-based perspective.
Furthermore, as children of God, Christians are called to protect the poor and marginalized by promoting the dignity and value of each and every life.
So far, the president and Congress have failed to convince me the TPP will uplift and promote human life and dignity.
My skepticism is due in large part because the American public cannot view the trade bill. Despite this, the president repeatedly assures us the TPP will benefit both the United States and the global community. While negotiations have largely been conducted in secret, special interest groups and corporate lobbyists have still managed to influence major provisions of the TPP. Why do lobbyists and special interest groups have access to the trade bill but not Congress or the American people?
This much is clear: The greedy, unfulfilling pursuit of money and power has devalued individual human life and created a society of exclusion and suffering. As Pope Francis states, “All the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world.” Ultimately, will the TPP add to the wealth and power of a select few, or will it serve to uplift all of humanity? As it stands, I would say the former is more likely.
Despite these legitimate concerns about the TPP, the president seeks fast-track authority from Congress. Such authority would deny Congress, and by extension the American people, the opportunity to make amendments to any final trade agreement.
I may be one small voice, but as St. Francis of Assisi once said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” In a world filled with darkness, we must each do our part to bring about greater peace and justice. I implore Christians who care about the common good and want to promote social justice to say no to fast-tracking the TPP through Congress.
Fr. David McBriar is the associate pastor and senior friar at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh.