While I was a pastor in Topeka, I was involved in an ecumenical group of churches who were working on justice issues to help those in the area who were in different forms of poverty or struggles. One issue came up that sometimes those who struggling to get by financially would need help paying a bill—rent, medical, car repair, etc.—and having nowhere else to go, they would get a loan from a payday loan. Unfortunately, such loans become debt traps. Unscrupulous lenders (who are largely unregulated) charge exorbitant fees in which can require borrowers to pay 390% APR. Catholic Biblical teaching calls this “usury” which is the immoral exploiting of the poor. “Usury is a serious sin: it kills life, tramples on the dignity of people, is a vehicle for corruption and hampers the common good.”-Pope Francis
The Kansas Catholic Conference of Bishops and other organizations are working to educate the public about the harms of usury and the need for reasonable, legal limits on the interest lenders can charge. We have a chance to make a difference. Prince of Peace is hosting a town hall to give people and hopefully state legislators more information on the practice.
The town hall is this Monday, Aug. 23, 7pm in our parish hall. See the flyer below. There will also be another one in Wyandotte County at Donnelly College Thursday, Aug. 26, at 7pm. Please pray that we can change this practice.