calendar October 8, 2008 in News

Bishops release pastoral letter on economic crisis

Lutherans are called to pray for and care for "those who are already vulnerable and struggling to survive" in the midst of the anxieties raised by the current global financial crisis, ELCA bishops said in a pastoral letter released Oct. 7.


Download the bishops’ full letter.


"The future is uncertain for all of us, but it is especially frightening for those who are already vulnerable and struggling to survive," the letter from the ELCA Conference of Bishops said. "We offer our prayers for those whose lives are being affected and for our national leaders as they seek to address this complex matter."

"We call on all people in our own communities of faith and those from every segment of our society who seek the health of our nation to join in conversation and prayer about our collective economic life, our financial behaviors, and the interconnectedness of all life and creation that cries out to be reclaimed."

Drawing on the ELCA’s social statement "Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All," the bishops offer biblical and theological grounding for responding to the crisis in four areas: concern for the poor, personal and corporate responsibility, the need for good government and the benefits and limits of free markets.

"We are called to work toward an economic system that truly serves the common good and especially the needs of the poor," the bishops write. "We look for partnership with all those who seek to address this financial crisis in a way that also recognizes the humanitarian issues involved."

The pastoral letter calls individuals to "live responsibly and within their means and to beware of the dangers of over-consumption and unnecessary accumulation," and urges businesses to "consider the social implications of company policies and to practice good stewardship of creation." It reminds government of its "instrumental and constructive role" to "hold corporations and other powerful economic actors accountable for the effects of their practices on workers, communities, and the environment."

The bishops say that the measure of an economic system is "the degree to which it serves God’s purposes for humankind and creation" and calls on those who have prospered under the market-based economy "to be generous in giving to those who have lost much and to advocate for accountability and appropriate regulation in this system."

The full letter is available online.