The Catholic Church, no stranger to controversy on a constellation of topics, has become rather pointed on one political matter – payday lending. The Diocese of Fort Worth has now asked the city to strictly regulate the industry in the only major city in the state without any such regulations.
Bishop Michael Olson, head of the Diocese of Fort Worth, issued the call to action. He says that the Catholic charities in the city saw a pattern with the people they were assisting: many of them had fallen into a cycle of debt.
“People who have come to see us have already gotten into trouble because of payday loans,” Olson says. “In an attempt for them to be responsible in paying their debts, they’ve been taken advantage of by these high rates that are not regulated at all.”
Olson says that frequently, those struggling with payday lending might not understand what they’re getting themselves into.
“Often times they’re immigrants, and they’re new to the country and new to the culture of loans,” Olson says. “They are susceptible to advertising campaigns and they inadvertently get involved in these unregulated loans, and really get plunged into crippling debt.”
The city has been responsive to the church’s call, Olson says, but because of the money in the payday loan business, it hasn’t been regulated up to this point.
“I think in general there’s a culture among us that resistant to regulation, and that some how regulation is inhibiting the free market,” Olson says, “when in fact, I think just regulations help to promote a free market.”