April 3, 2015

Letters to the Editor

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No letters were printed this week; here is the letter from two weeks ago:

‘Fast for Living Wages’ to show support for raising Indiana’s minimum wage

As Indiana Catholics, we draw enormous inspiration from the Catholic bishops’ new “Poverty at the Crossroads” pastoral. With this letter and its eloquent call to “See,” “Judge” and “Act” on the suffering of our Hoosier brothers and sisters, our bishops have challenged us all to follow Jesus’ mandate to make a special place in our hearts for the poor.

As the pastoral notes, St. John Paul II taught us that “A just wage is the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system.” But for a half-million Hoosiers, their hard work does not earn wages that are sufficient to provide their families with a roof over their heads or food on their table.

A majority of states in the U.S. have set their wages above the national minimum of $7.25 per hour. Those states, including our neighbors in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, have seen their economies grow after mandating higher wages, a phenomenon that is triggered when workers can afford to purchase goods and boost local businesses.

Yet Indiana has not raised our minimum wage, a decision that has contributed mightily to the statewide suffering outlined in the bishops’ report. So along with dozens of other advocates for the Indiana poor, we are joining in a “Fast for Living Wages” during the weekend of March 21.

We believe $7.25 per hour, Indiana’s minimum wage, is a hunger wage. Therefore, some of us will be fasting for as long as 72.5 hours to show support for raising Indiana’s minimum wage. Our temporary discomfort reminds us of the more significant struggles of the half-million Hoosiers who work for sub-poverty wages. And we aim for our actions to remind Indiana lawmakers of their moral duty to the poor.

We will fast in the tradition of major religious faiths, and in the tradition of social justice movements ranging from farmworkers’ struggles to the U.S. civil rights movement.

“I join with others in prayer and fasting to experience in some way solidarity with those who suffer the evil of poverty and hunger, and to work toward the elimination of this widespread evil,” says Franciscan Sister Norma Rocklage, one of those who will fast. “The Lord hears the cry of the poor … and so must we!”

The “Fast for Living Wages” includes an interfaith gathering of those who are fasting at 2 p.m. on March 22 at St. Monica Church, 6131 Michigan Road, in Indianapolis, and concludes at 11 a.m. on March 23 with a People’s Assembly at the Indiana Statehouse.

We invite all to participate. If you can give up a single meal, that would mean a lot, as would fasting for the entire period.

For more information about the “Fast for Living Wages,” or to commit to fasting with us, visit the Raise the Wage Indiana page on Facebook or contact Fran Quigley at fwquigley@gmail.com.

$7.25 per hour is a hunger wage. As the bishops have reminded us in this groundbreaking report, Indiana workers deserve better.

- Pax Christi of Indianapolis

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