Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The West, with all of its promise of freedom, flirts with an instrumentalist materialism devoid of any understanding that the market was made for man not man for the market

The Church's social doctrine holds that authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity can also be conducted within economic activity, and not only outside it or after it. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner."

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope Francis, Pope benedict, Pope John Paul, economy of communion, solidarity, capitalism, distributivism, subsidiarity, economic theory, catholic economics, market economy, catholics and capitalsim, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, My 16, 2013, Pope Francis received four new ambassadors to the Holy See and accepted their credentials. As has been the custom of his predecessors, he used the moment to give address matters of international importance.

He signaled his intention to challenge the very foundations of economic theory itself by reasserting the Catholic contribution that the economy was made for man and not the other way around. His predecessor, Pope Benedict, in his 2009 letter Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate) offered seeds for building an economy of communion and gift.

In reading the address of Pope Francis I once was again convinced of the continuity in the election of Francis to succeed Benedict.  The Church calls us to a preferential option or, I prefer, a love of preference for the poor; the kind of love which the Lord Himself shows in his very identification with the poor.

The implications of our response to this command are expounded upon in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew. This means a demonstrated concern for their well being and the development of a social and economic order which includes them within its embrace and promise of advancement. This is why the Church upholds the dignity of all human work and the basic right to a living, just or family wage.

In recent encyclicals and magisterial teaching the market economy has been recognized as having a real potential for promoting all of these goods - when properly understood and morally structured. However, the Catholic Church does not take a position on which economic theory is the best among many.

She properly and prophetically stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system.  She has also properly and prophetically cautions Nations which have adopted a form of liberal capitalism that there are dangers in any form of economism or materialism which promotes the use of persons as products and fails to recognize the value of being over acquiring.

She reminds our consumerist western culture that the market economy must be at the service the person, the family and the common good, lest capitalism conflate its claims to offering freedom and become what Blessed John Paul II once referred to as 'savage' in its application and encourage business practices devolving into greed.

The Church also warns against and rejects collectivism, whether of the left or the right.

The Church's social doctrine holds that authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity can also be conducted within economic activity, and not only outside it or after it. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner."

Contrary to what some wrote after that letter was published, it neither endorsed nor rejected capitalism. As the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church consistently has done in the past it simply does not use the term, preferring the term market economy or free economy. That is because the market is made for man and not man for the market. Freedom is a good of the person and a free market must be one which is moral.

Markets can only be free when free people are engaged in them. Freedom is a good of the person. A free economy should also seek to continually expand by opening the way for the participation for as many people as possible, while promoting enterprise and initiative.

Also, though we are to give a love of preference to the poor, recognizing our solidarity with them, this call to solidarity is to be applied through the application of the principle of subsidiarity, rejecting all forms of dehumanizing collectivism, either of the left or the right.

Subsidiarity in both governance and economic participation rejects the usurping by a larger entity of participation which can be done at the lowest practicable level.  

The West, with all of its promise of freedom, flirts with an instrumentalist materialism devoid of any understanding that the market was made for man not man for the market. In this kind of mistaken approach to a free market economic order the accumulation of capital can come to be viewed as prior to the flourishing of the person, the family and the common good. In its wake, the poor can be forgotten and peace threatened.

The market economy can be a force for good when humanized and expanded to offer participation to more and more men and women. How to do that will require the work of Catholic economists who seek to knead the principles of the Social teaching of the Catholic Church into their work and not try to "baptize" their pet economic theories with proof texts.

Here are some of the words of Pope Francis:

*****
Pope Francis to Ambassadors

Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education and communications.

At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident.

People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves - and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis.
 
In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.

The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption.

Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy.

While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.

A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.

Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market.

These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics - naturally, not the ethics of ideology - makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane.

In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: "Not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs" (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 - PG 48, 992D).

Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders.

I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ's name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.

For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programs.

The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from his designs?

In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Europe

If backed into a corner will Putin come out swinging? On the eve of Russia's great depression Europe braces for violent repercussions Watch

Image of Some analysts fear that Russia could default on its foreign debt, even worse, a depression may force Vladimir Putin to take an aggressive and expansionist stance in Europe.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The sharply declining price of a barrel of oil and the harsh sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe have created a perfect storm for Russia's weak economy. The ruble has fallen fast, and the financial crisis that faces Russia is quickly spiraling out of ... continue reading


Pope Francis Gives Direction to Charismatic Renewal and New Movements Watch

Image of Pope Francis at the last Pentecost Sunday Mass. Included in the massive crowd were members of the diverse ecclesial movements from around the world.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 22, 2014, Pope Francis addressed a Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It brought together new movements and communities in the Catholic Church - from across the globe. These movements are not only flourishing, but multiplying ... continue reading


Singing nun Sister Cristian Scucccia fulfills lifelong dream to meet Pope Francis Watch

Image of Sister Cristina is slated to perform at the Vatican's Christmas concert later this week, along with American punk singer Patti Smith.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Sister Cristina Scuccia, whose cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" has gathered more than four million views on YouTube, has fulfilled her longtime dream of meeting Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meeting Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, she ... continue reading


Sexual predator nabbed trying to lure teenage girls off social media sites Watch

Image of Prosecutor Mary McCarthy said Wood sent explicit pictures to girls and, in some cases, arranged to meet them. He had full sexual intercourse with five of the girls. Some of the offenses occurred while he was on bail.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yeovil man, in Great Britain has been arrested on numerous sex charges. Twenty-year-old Jacob Wood is accused of grooming "vulnerable" teenage girls for sex through social media sites. Wood has been spared a prison sentence after a judge said it would not ... continue reading


'We may not live through these days': Is Mikhail Gorbachev warning that the crisis in Ukraine could turn into World War III? Watch

Image of Former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who has long been hailed as one of the leading architects in ending the Cold War is now warning that the world may be facing the potential of war if Russian and American leaders are unwilling to back down.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is no secret that relations between the United States-and its allies in Europe-and Russia have chilled to levels unseen since the end of the Cold War over the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. What is surprising is just who is issuing a warning about the potential ... continue reading


Plight of boat people worldwide addressed by United Nations Watch

Image of

By Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Governments must focus on saving lives rather than keeping foreigners out at a time when more people than ever are embarking on risky sea crossings in search of asylum or a better life, the United Nations said on Wednesday. GENEVA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


Indian, Pakistani accept Nobel Peace Prizes Watch

Image of Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, from India accepted their Nobel Peace Prizes in Norway.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

India and Pakistan are longtime international rivals. This didn't prevent a Pakistani teenage advocate for women's education and an Indian child rights campaigner from receiving Nobel Peace Prizes. Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, ... continue reading


VATICAN AT RISK OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION as Islamic State smuggles dirty bomb into Europe Watch

Image of Vatican City may be a primary target for the Islamic State's dirty bomb.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A weapons maker for the Islamic State has posted a chilling warning to the world, claiming that a radioactive device, known as a "dirty bomb" has been successfully smuggled into Europe. This suggests that a radiological bombing could be imminent. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'ISIS killers are monsters and cowards,' widow of slain British aid worker says Watch

Image of

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

The widow of a 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines, who was murdered by Islamic State extremists has denounced his killers "cowards." Dragana Haines, whose husband David was killed by the militants in a graphic video posted online last September, says she still ... continue reading


Has the Islamic State moved on to Russia? 16 dead in Islamist attack! Watch

Image of 16 people have died, and 21 more were injured during an attack in the capital of Chechnya by Islamic militants.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At least 16 people are dead in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, following an early morning attack on a police checkpoint, media building and school by rebel gunmen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The attack occurred at 1:00 a.m. (local time) on December 4, and ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 49:2, 8-10
2 Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen; listen to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:3-4, 7-8, 17
3 Mountains and hills, bring peace to the people! ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 1:1-17
1 Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 17th, 2014 Image

St. Olympias
December 17: Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter