Harming people in poverty
While Bishop of Salina, I fought against payday lending businesses. These businesses prey on the poor and those who are unable to borrow from regular lending agencies or who have a poor understanding of the unconscionable methods payday lenders use to convince our poorest residents to agree to extremely high interest and other conditions that ultimately make paying the “loan” off impossible. Instead, people end up in an ever-worsening situation of continuing debt.
Imposing high interest rates on loans of any kind is called usury. We have got to guard against usury.
As I have said before, protecting the poor from outrageous loans was illegal in the U.S. until only a few years ago when unscrupulous business persons realized there was billions of dollars to be made off the backs of the desperate poor.
Seems that our laws alternate between protecting against usury and then back again . This week we again find ourselves working against this issue. Just this week Senate Bill SJR-56 was introduced by the national Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to rescind its October 2017 payday lending rules. According to information from Sen. Jeff Flake’s office:
“On October 5, 2017, the CFPB finalized a payday lending rule aimed at stopping payday debt traps by requiring lenders to determine upfront whether people can afford to repay their loans. However, on January 16, 2018, the CFPB announced that it intends to engage in a rulemaking process to reconsider its October payday lending rule decision. Those in favor of repealing the CFPB’s October decision argue that the rule places undue burdens on low-to-middle income consumers by leaving them without access to credit. They also contend that payday loan users overwhelmingly approve of the product, and that the rule is built on a flawed theory of consumer harm.”
The information from Flake’s office went on to report, “Despite the CFPB’s announcement that it intends to engage in a rulemaking process to reevaluate the final rule, the agency will be unable to do so without following the time-consuming notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act.”
I cannot understand the need for this rule change. As I wrote in Salina, urging people to advocate against pay day lending, “Payday lenders take advantage of a state of desperation experienced by those in dire financial circumstances. It is this sense of crisis that causes those (often with little financial understanding, and few other options) to initiate an unseen cycle of debt from which it quickly becomes virtually impossible to escape . . . Who is most at risk? No one is more vulnerable to the catastrophic consequences of “ballooning” fees than those who live on fixed incomes or who have been designated by social services agencies as highly at risk and unable to secure additional income due to advanced age, disability, or some other critical circumstance.”
The rule change has just been introduced. We can still tell our senators not to approve changes that will support this sinister form of lending. Ask our congressional delegation to vote “no” on SJ. Res. 56. Please use the information below. Your message should include the following:
1. A statement saying you are a resident of Arizona. Also mention your town/city
2. A statement saying you are calling to urge the Senator to vote NO on SJR 56.
Senator Jeff Flake - (R - AZ)
Phone Contact: (202) 224-4521
Email Contact: www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff
413 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510
Senator John McCain - (R - AZ)
Phone Contact: (202) 224-2235
Email Contact: www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form
218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510
I have attached the message asking for people to call or email from St. Vincent de Paul, VOP Western Region. There is additional information you may find interesting.
This week and into next week, I will continue my joyful tour of meeting young Catholics ready for Confirmation. Parishes included are: In Tucson, Santa Monica Parish, Religious Education Program and school students at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; then Holy Cross Parish in Morenci and Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton at Holy Cross, and at Sacred Heart Parish in Willcox.
Baccalaureate Masses and Graduations
It’s time for Baccalaureate Masses as our Catholic High School seniors beginning preparing for the end of their last year of high school before going on to the next stage of their educations. My first Baccalaureate Mass in this diocese takes place at Lourdes Catholic High School in Nogales, Ariz. On Wednesday, May 16, at 2 p.m. followed by Lourdes High’s graduation at the Lourdes Chapel and gymnasium.
Here is the remaining Mass and graduation schedule:
Saturday, May 19
Salpointe High School Baccalaureate Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. Graduation at 11:30 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center.
St. Augustine High School Baccalaureate Mass at St. Francis de Sales Parish at noon, followed by graduation at the high school gymnasium.
Thursday, May 24:
Immaculate Heart High School Baccalaureate Mass at St. Odilia Church , 6 p.m. at St. Odilia Parish.
Friday, May 25:
Immaculate Heart High School graduation, 6 p.m. at the high school gym.
Yuma Catholic High School Baccalaureate Mass at St. Francis Assisi Church, Yuma, at 4:30 p.m. Graduation the same day at 6:30 p.m. at Ricky Gwynn Stadium.
San Miguel High School Baccalaureate Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 26
San Miguel High School graduation at University of Arizona Centennial Hall, 9 a.m.
Upcoming Kino Cup Soccer Tournament
The Fourth Annual Kino Cup Soccer Tournament takes place the Memorial Day weekend.
A highlight of the event is the annual priests versus seminarians game, this year on Friday, May 25 beginning at 6:30 p.m. A bonafide rivalry, our men of God put their all into the game. Our priests were victorious last year.
There is food for sale and lots of excitement. Come cheer for your favorite priest or seminarian.
For more information, visit diocesetucson.org/vocations
Ordination to Priesthood
Deacons Thomas Quirk and John Gonzales will be ordained to the priesthood on June 2 at St. Augustine Cathedral.
The beautiful liturgy begins at 10 a.m.
SJ. Res. 56: Additonal background:
In Arizona there are 630 predatory auto title lending stores. It is not surprising that most of these stores are in low income neighbors. Predatory Auto Title Lenders extract $254,000,000 annually from the pockets of Arizona’s poor and most vulnerable residents. These lenders charge 204%APR interest on a $500 auto title loan. The loan is for 30 days. At the end of 30 days over 80% of the borrowers are not able to pay the loan off. The borrower has little choice except to pay the old loan with a new 30-day loan that now includes the original $500 plus $85 interest and a $25 new loan fee (Total $610). The average borrower repeats this process 8 times before paying of the loan or losing his/her vehicle to repossession. After 8 roll overs the repayment of the $500 loan has grown to $2,511.32.
The Consumer Financial Protection Rules would, among other things, would require that predatory lenders loan only to people that have a reasonable chance of repaying according to terms. Loaning to people that lack the ability to repay is like throwing an anchor to a drowning person. A small loan turns from life preserver to a heavy anchor.