Shaktizahn If this vision is lost, we end up either considering nature an untouchable taboo or, on the contrary, abusing it. Yet it must be acknowledged that this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problemshighlighted even further by the current crisis. Blind opposition would be a mistaken and prejudiced attitude, incapable of recognizing the positive aspects of the process, with the consequent risk of missing the chance to take advantage of its many opportunities for development. A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a encyklikx of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance.
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Jellinek argued that both the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the analogous declaration in the United States and similar declarations issued in the Western world were ultimately the product of the struggles to safeguard religious freedom.
What until then had been considered the work of the revolution is, in reality, a product of the Protestant Reformation and its ensuing conflicts. Or, on the contrary, is modernity the result of a rupture and discontinuity with this Christian tradition? Weber argued that it is not just material and economic forces that change the world, but also religious ones, and that the latter played a significant role in the evolution of Western industrial society.
Although its line of argument is not easy to grasp in a single reading,  we will argue here that, in Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI seeks to highlight elements of the Christian tradition that can be of value for the modern economy, whose goal, according to the Pope, must be the integral development of mankind.
Caritas in Veritate is the longest social encyclical in history, and in terms of content one of the richest. It offers many suggestions that could generate a change in the way of thinking in this area and lead to innovative points of view. In this introduction to the Encyclical I would like to stress two of these points that seem particularly important to me. All these realities call for a different method. In the end, it should be the object studied that decides which method is to be employed and not the method that decides what object should be studied.
But it is not only theology insofar as based on revelation , but also anthropology as a philosophy based on human reason. And since it speaks in the name of reason, the Church can demand a public forum. It is not a case of two typologies of social doctrine, one pre-conciliar and one post-conciliar, differing from one another: on the contrary, there is a single teaching, consistent and at the same time ever new. It is one thing to draw attention to the particular characteristics of one Encyclical or another, of the teaching of one Pope or another, but quite another to lose sight of the coherence of the overall doctrinal corpus.
Coherence does not mean a closed system: on the contrary, it means dynamic faithfulness to a light received. In it, the Pope referred to the correct interpretation of the new focus given by the Council. His main concern is the problem of transformation and permanence. This second type of hermeneutic was the one desired by the Second Vatican Council, in clarifying the relationship between the Church and modernity.
The Council certainly saw the need to carry out major steps of reform. The Pope highlights in his December address three important reference points: the relationship of the faith and the Church to the natural sciences, to the modern state and to other religions. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned.
The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.
Catholic social doctrine and the modern economic order In his December address mentioned above, the Pope referred explicitly to the relationship with the natural sciences, with the modern state, and with other religions. What importance does the modern free economy have here?
Or did he rather omit it deliberately? At first sight, it might seem that the Pope excluded economics from the topics in which a reconciliation between faith and reason has been attained.
This could be inferred, perhaps, from the address he gave on November 23, In it, Joseph Ratzinger showed himself to be decidedly critical in regard to economic liberalism. At the same time, the future Pontiff also rejected Marxism. His criticism of economic liberalism was directed against a tradition going back to Adam Smith maintaining that ethics and the market economy cannot be reconciled.
According to this theory moral decisions were opposed to the laws of the market: moral economic activities—according to the view criticized by Joseph Ratzinger—had no chance of surviving in the world of the market. Ethics and the market were seen as irreconcilable, given that in economics what matters is efficiency, not morality. Ratzinger points to the determinism hidden in this position.
However, the truth that needs to be defended is that the laws of the market have an autonomy and a validity that is only relative. They fulfill their function if they are grounded in a culture of ethical responsibility oriented to the common good, that is to say, in a context of consensus in regard to values. The economy is not put into effect solely by laws, but by persons. In Centesimus Annus, basing himself on the Second Vatican Council, John Paul II gave a definitive right of citizenship to modern political culture in the teaching of the Church, including there the model of the free economy with a social concern.
Economic liberalism was a great advance, as has been the entire development of freedom found in modern life. Nevertheless, it is now worthwhile emphasizing once more that in the face of economic liberalism, the Church has maintained a great reserve for a long time—for a longer time than in regard to political liberalism.
The response is obviously complicated. It is not just a question of a new terminology. John Paul II wanted to provide orientation for the period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. Benedict XVI finds in the world economic crisis as a pressing call for reflection, and seeks to provide an anthropological and Christian grounding for progress in the free economy.
The two Pontiffs are speaking different languages. But, despite what might first seem to be the case, their message is not contradictory.
Caritas in Veritate does not undo anything in Centesimus Annus; on the contrary, it presupposes and confirms it. Other aspects of the free economy, such as interest, international commerce, the financial markets, speculation, etc.
He also employs terminology that an economist might find unsettling, and seems to want to introduce elements of what he calls the gift economy into the market economy. The gift economy is not a market economy. This invitation merits a deeper explanation.
Fundamental goals proposed by the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate 1. If a scientist consciously and a priori excludes all that is not material, the method he employs can never reach anything that transcends the material world. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course. If a scientist works within the limits of this empirical method and deliberately remains within those limits, then the method might be justified.
But if one seeks to demonstrate the non-existence of something that the very choice of the method excludes, one falls into an obvious vicious circle. This is particularly important when dealing with human actions, because in this case the voice of conscience makes itself heard. Economic activity is a free human activity, that is, an action that is judged by our conscience and guided by our convictions and by our virtues or vices.
Moral principles are not bothersome limitations opposed to economic benefits: what is ethically bad is also an error in terms of the economy; and vice versa; what is an error in regard to the economy is also such from the ethical point of view because it would constitute mistaken human behavior. In the long term, these convictions have led to economic, social and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise.
Moreover, in his Encyclical Vix Pervenit , Benedict XIV severely condemned the collection of interest, but at the same time permitted the establishment of parallel contracts that de facto made possible the payment of lucrum cessans. Their viewpoint could be summed up in the following way: the problem lies not in the possession of wealth, but in how it is used.
A careful reading of the Patristic sources reveals that the Fathers of the Church did not develop an economic doctrine but rather a social doctrine. They inspired the building of hospitals, hospices for travelers and pilgrims, soup kitchens for the poor, etc. In addition, they also took for granted freedom in the exercise of commerce and in contracts. Later, especially in the Franciscan school of the 14th century and the Salamancan school of the 16th century, the foundations were laid not only for a new understanding in the Church of economic activity, but also for the beginning of the modern science of economics.
It was the Franciscans who opened for the first time a chain of more than Montes de Piedad. This practice was established all over Italy to provide credit accessible to craftsmen and poor farmers in moments of crisis microfinance.
These friars were in constant contact with the poor, who frequently ended up the victims of usurers. The latter paradoxically, and precisely because of the canonical prohibition against giving loans with interest, fell outside all regulation, and therefore at times demanded exorbitant interest. At the same time the poor often were forced into a much greater indigence because their work instruments and their livestock were impounded by the usurers. This exchange is possible only in the context of a personal relationship, which may be of various kinds human or inhuman, friendly or exploitive, loyal or fraudulent, etc.
One needs to have confidence in the other person and put oneself in their shoes. Where this fullness of meaning is lacking, the relationship becomes inhuman. Therefore the gift in the context of a spirit of gratuitousness is a sign of how developed a society really is. Living together in a human way is impossible without gratuitousness. Without gratuitousness there is no trust, an indispensable element for the stability of the market and of society.
Human dignity is the basis and the source of all human rights. The human person is called to live in a society, but is not dissolved into it. Each person is unique, unrepeatable, indispensable, incommensurable, incommunicable. The person is an end in itself, never a means.
The modern age and the overcoming of this outlook in which the community prevails over the individual has led to the birth of the individual with his or her rights, even against the community. A new foundation for life in common was therefore needed, since the concept of the totality of the community had been lost.
This was found in the market. Rather the system of prices, as a mediator of relationships, sterilized the elements that might give rise to clashes: everyone who is able to pay or exchange goods or services is included in the market system. The solution of establishing a market, however, results in two antithetical effects: one of inclusion or union, and a second that produces loneliness and unhappiness, since the price that is demanded is the abandonment of true fraternity.
True fraternity is restricted to the private sphere. Universal fraternity is too dangerous for the public sphere, because—by being a manifestation of agape disinterested love —it creates a crisis for the apparent equilibrium of the market economy. It is not the case that a free market economy is intrinsically opposed to fraternity, or that our market economy has to be replaced with a non-market economy.
Rather we need to discover and strengthen many gratuitous elements that already exist: for example, blood and organ donations, social volunteer networks, open source software, and, above all, the gratuitous services that take place within the sphere of the family.
All these activities help to make our life and society more human. Reciprocity and relationality Gratuitousness is connected with another aspect the Pope wishes to highlight as important for the economy: that of reciprocity and relation. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures.
It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God. Positive reciprocity represents a fundamental act of recognition of the other as my equal. Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.
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.
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