WASHINGTON -- When the pastoral letter "Economic Justice for All" was published by the U.S. bishops in November 1986, its release was both the culmination of years of work and the beginning of a sometimes heated public debate.
That debate continues today, as proved during a panel discussion Dec. 6 marking its 25th anniversary.
In a round-table discussion convened by Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Governance Studies Program at Brookings Institution, self-described conservatives and liberals squared off over the merits of the pastoral letter, much as people did in 1986.
The five-part letter looked at the church's vision of economic life, beginning with a discussion of Christian principles and their role in economic matters. It offered proposals for employment, poverty, food and agriculture, and international development; outlined a "New American Experiment" and a "Partnership for the Common Good," and laid out a commitment for the future.