Poor Women, Work, and the U.S. Catholic Bishops: Discerning Myth from Reality in Welfare Reform

Journal of Religious Ethics 25 (2):307-333 (1997)
The 1995 U.S. Catholic bishops' statement "Moral Principles and Policy Priorities on Welfare Reform" makes an important contribution to the welfare policy discussion and to the development of welfare ethics, particularly as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of August 1996 is implemented at the state level throughout the nation. Their statement, however, is weakened by lack of attention to critical analysis of political economy. Such analysis challenges the central assumption driving United States welfare reform and has the potential to enhance Catholic welfare ethics. By examining the radical restructuring of work, rising corporate subsidies, and the ideological function of welfare, the author supports the bishops' policy goals while she expands the moral principles at stake and redefines the scope of the problem. She accents the political challenges the bishops' proposals will actually pose.
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