The current economic model that places profit over the common good of all human beings must change in order to confront the challenges the world is facing today, a Vatican official said.
The world must heed Pope Francis' warning of the dangers of "an
economy of exclusion and inequality", Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson,
president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told
participants at a conference studying the pope's views on the economy.
"We need a new social economy to meet the challenges of the present
day, one in which the human being is firmly at the centre, where all are
included in economic social life, and where creation is cherished and
protected," Cardinal Turkson said.
The event, titled "The Economy according to Pope Francis," was
sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the
embassies of Germany, the Netherlands and Austria to the Holy See.
his speech, Cardinal Turkson highlighted the pope's warnings on the
"liquid economy," or an economy judged by the ease with which assets can
be converted into cash, and therefore focusing more on finance than on
labor and the production of goods. This type of economy, he said, is one
that "refuses to put the human being at the centre of economic life."
"For Pope Francis, a liquid economy goes hand-in-hand with a
throwaway culture. This is the ultimate economy of exclusion," Cardinal
Turkson said. The pope's call for the world to move from a liquid
economy to a social economy, one that "invests in persons by creating
jobs and providing training," is a solution that shifts the priority
"from economic growth and financial health to human flourishing and the
ability to live well," he said.
To achieve this, the cardinal continued, the principles of
solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good highlighted in Pope
Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'," can be applied to
the modern market economy. Also citing Pope Francis' apostolic
exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," Cardinal Turkson explained that
solidarity can lead to the "creation of a new mindset" that places
"priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few."
These principles, he added, also can be applied to global problems
"that do not respect national boundaries" and therefore call for a
"Climate change is an obvious example," he said. "The same is true
for other environmental problems, including the loss of biodiversity,
the strain on water supplies, and pollution of the air, the soil, the
Global issues such as unemployment, inequality and environmental
degradation can be remedied by moving toward a social market economy,
Cardinal Turkson said. However, global and business leaders also must
come to terms with the causes of such problems.
While technological advances have improved efficiency, he said, they
also have created problems with employment, which is "an essential
source of human dignity."
"More and more people are being discarded as
machines take up their tasks. And as technology gets more and more
advanced, what will a 'robot economy' mean for workers?" the cardinal
asked. In order to serve the common good, Cardinal Turkson said,
businesses must "put the creation of employment ahead of a fixation of
Government policies that provide tax cuts to the wealthy while
"fraying social safety nets and weakening unions," he said, also have
contributed to a growing inequality that has given the wealthy "too much
influence over policy."
Societies that become too unequal, he added, "lose a sense of shared purpose necessary for deliberating on the common good."
A new social economy, he said, must be respectful of nature instead
of relying on "old-school industrialisation," making the world dependent
on oil, coal and gas. Extreme pollution, climate change and the
destruction of vital ecosystems caused by such industrialisation will
continue to push people into extreme poverty "if we fail to act," he
Everyone must "play their part" in ensuring an economy that is
sustainable, equal and respectful of human dignity, he said. "Let's not
fall into the trap of assuming that the state alone is responsible for
the common good while 'the business of business is business.'"