When the deadliest accident in fashion industry history killed more than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers at a Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, Pope Francis condemned the conditions under which these garment workers toiled as "slave labor," saying "that goes against God."
Eight years later, business models that demand low-cost labor in unsafe conditions, like those that contributed to the Rana Plaza tragedy, still undergird much of the global apparel industry. But the way that we currently make clothing leads to more than just the sweatshops that remain sadly all too familiar — it's also contributing to the kind of ecological sin that wrongs future generations and the Earth alike.
These sins perpetrated by our current apparel system range from the minute to the monumental. Polluting microplastics shed from synthetic garments have been found everywhere from Mount Everest to the Mariana trench.
Toxic dyes from apparel factories have colored whole rivers in Bangladesh and China a deadly rainbow of next season's trendiest hues. Landfills in nations like Ghana are dangerously overflowing with secondhand clothing shipped from the Global North.
And the fashion industry is also contributing to the most existential threat facing the planet today: climate change.
A few days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act and sent it to the Senate for consideration in late February, the Twitter account of the U.S. bishops' conference posted a seven-tweet thread laying out its opposition to the legislation.
The bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity would "discriminate against people of faith," the bishops' tweet said.
For one young Catholic, it was the last straw, writes NCR executive editor Heidi Schlumpf in her latest column. This person, whom Schlumpf calls "Alex" to protect their anonymity, started a new account and began tweeting as if it were speaking for the bishops.
"Initially, I was just working out my own emotions," Alex told Schlumpf. "I was saying, 'What is it that I would like to hear from the bishops at this point?' "
Within 48 hours, Twitter shut down the account. It turns out that if you are more or less mimicking someone else, your account must explicitly be labeled "parody." Thus "U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (parody)" was born.
NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters says a big lie has emerged at the heart of the GOP — that Donald Trump is the legitimate president because the 2020 election was stolen. "Until that lie is dispatched, American democracy is radically unsafe," he writes.
NCR readers respond to a recent Villanova University panel that intensified the debate about denying President Joe Biden Communion because of his support of legal abortion.
ICYMI: LifeSiteNews, the ultraconservative website that often features faith content, was removed from Facebook for "repeatedly violating our COVID-19 policies."
ICYMI: The CEOs of vaccine-makers Pfizer and Moderna joined cardinals, academics and the lead guitarist of Aerosmith in opening a unique Vatican conference on COVID-19, other global health threats and how science, solidarity and spirituality can address them.