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CONTACT: Christopher Hale
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Appealing to the the values that mark the beginning of the Lenten season today--prayer, penance and conversion--thirty prominent Catholic thought leaders from across the United States are calling on President Obama and the United States Congress to turn away from the secretive process that has marked the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

The priests, women and men religious, lay activists and scholars who signed the letter write that "the secretive process that has marked this legislation deprives our citizens of their fundamental right to participate in the creation of law, especially an agreement that so profoundly affects their own livelihoods and those of their families and neighbors."

They continue, "[a]s we’ve learned time and again in this country, bad processes create bad agreements. And this situation is no different. The TPP—like its older siblings NAFTA and CAFTA—is a wolf in sheep’s clothing."

Appealing to Pope Francis's call for an economy of inclusion, the signers promise elected leaders that "if they are willing to take a step of courage against fast tracking this legislation, they will have a Church that will walk with them the entire way."

The full text of the letter with its signees is below:

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress, 

Today on Ash Wednesday, as Christians enter into the holy season of Lent—a time marked by prayer, penance and conversion—we call on you to turn away from the secretive process that has marked the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

This legislation, which has far ranging implications for our global community beyond trade, should not be “fast tracked” through Congress.

Negotiation and consideration of such an agreement requires broad input of the American people. But to date there has been little.

It’s clear: the secretive process that has marked this legislation deprives our citizens of their fundamental right to participate in the creation of law, especially an agreement that so profoundly affects their own livelihoods and those of their families and neighbors.

As we’ve learned time and again in this country, bad processes create bad agreements. And this situation is no different. The TPP—like its older siblings NAFTA and CAFTA—is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It proponents promise it will create more American jobs, but TPP includes the same terms in earlier pacts that make it easier for large corporations to offshore American jobs. Its proponents promise better wages, but as recent data shows, instead TPP will increase global inequality and structural poverty. Its proponents promise it will be an instrument of the common good, but instead TPP will serve only the interests of the rich and powerful who are now promoting this pact against the objection of a broad base of civil society.

If corporate lobbyists and their allies in business and government were so convinced the TPP is good for the American people, they wouldn’t try to railroad this legislation through Congress without due oversight from the people and their elected officials.

Pope Francis says it so well: “just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.”

As the Holy Father notes, “the world [is instead] becom[ing] an idolater of this god called money.”

Together, with men and women of faith throughout this nation, we call on our elected officials to reject this new idolatry of money and to stop any fast tracking of the proposed TPP. 

During this Lenten season, our elected leaders should know that if they are willing to take a step of courage against fast tracking this legislation, they will have a Church that will walk with them the entire way 

Alfred Rotondaro
Chairman
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network 

Father Anthony Cutcher
President
National Federation of Priest Councils

Father Clete Kiley
Director of Immigration Policy
Unite Here

Eli S. McCarthy
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men 

Benjamin Palumbo
Board of Directors
Catholics United

Father Charles Currie, SJ
Jesuit Commons

Sister Ilia Delio, OSF
Haub Director, Catholic Studies Program
Georgetown University

Kathleen Maas Weigert
Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago

John Gehring
Catholic Program Director
Faith in Public Life

Vincent J. Miller
Professor of Theology
University of Dayton

Meghan Clark
Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies
St. John’s University

Tobias Winright
Maeder Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics
Saint Louis University

Kathryn Getek Soltis
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University

Christopher Pramuk
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University 

Eugene McCarraher
Associate Professor of Humanities
Villanova University

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University

Irene Anne Jillson
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies
Georgetown University

Marcia Chatelain
Assistant Professor, History
Georgetown University 

Kevin Ahern
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Manhattan College 

Rev. T. Michael McNulty, SJ
MacLean Professor of Philosophy
St. Joseph’s University 

Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Washington, DC 

Rev. John A. Coleman, SJ
Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius Church (San Francisco) 

Alex Mikulich
Assistant Professor
Loyola University of New Orleans

Charles Clark
Professor of Economics
St. John’s University

Ron Pagnucco
Associate Professor
College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University

Charles Strauss
Assistant Professor of History
Mount St. Mary’s University 

Billy Kangas
Writer, Patheos Catholic

David O'Brien
Loyola Professor of Catholic Studies Emeritus
College of the Holy Cross

Joseph McCartin
Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
Georgetown University

Katherine Combellick
Fordham University

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