Saturday, May 01, 2010

Current crisis shows economics needs ethics and public intervention

The crisis the world is currently experiencing is proof that the economy is not independent of the rest of society, capable of regulating itself, Pope Benedict XVI said.

It requires ethical rules and public intervention so that economics can be “an activity of and for human beings.”

These principles, which are laid out in Caritas in Veritate, informed the Pontiff’s address to the 16th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, whose topic this year is “Crisis in a Global Economy. Re-planning the Journey.”

“The worldwide financial breakdown has [. . .] demonstrated the fragility of the present economic system and the institutions linked to it,” the Pope said.

“It has also shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards. This assumption is based on an impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self-interest and profit-seeking.”

“As such, it overlooks the essentially ethical nature of economics as an activity of and for human beings. Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development—political, cultural and spiritual—of individuals, families and societies.”

“Re-planning the journey, of course, also means looking to comprehensive and objective standards against which to judge the structures, institutions and concrete decisions which guide and direct economic life.”

For this reason, the Church insists on the principles of natural law, which are “inscribed in creation itself,” and are “accessible to human reason and, as such, must be adopted as the basis for practical choices”.

Natural law serves “as a beacon guiding the efforts of individuals and communities to pursue good and to avoid evil, while directing their commitment to building an authentically just and humane society.”


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