05/17/2018, 13.25
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Economy needs ethics to avoid implosion and bankruptcy

by Bernardo Cervellera

The document "Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones" published today asks people to work to combine "technical knowledge and human wisdom", interests and charity, exchange and gift. All the crises of the last 10 years. The lack of ethics makes financial institutions, banks and companies "criminal associations". Not a populist trick, but the Social Doctrine of the Church. The commitment of civil society. The dignity of the ordinary person across cultures.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There is an urgent need to bring ethics and politics back into the economy, if we do not want to see growing poverty and inequality between people and nations, which risk causing the collapse and implosion of the social system (No. 5 ).

This is the conclusion contained in a Vatican document released today on "Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones. Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System ". It claims to want to combine "technical knowledge and human wisdom", interests and charity, exchange and gift.

The economic history and the crises of the last decade justify the need for these summaries. Even without naming names, the text speaks of the subprime crisis that spread throughout the globe following the collapse of Lehman Brothers; of offshore finances that drain national coffers in favor of dictators and heads of state or multinationals that secure their profits.

There is the ambiguity of holding together speculative banks and savings banks, with the related bank failures; the disproportionate payment of top managers who have also caused enormous damage to the community; public debt spiraling out of control; unjust tax systems that weigh on the small; the evasion of taxes by individuals and supranational companies that have become more powerful than States.

For all these phenomena that weigh on the global crisis, the document clearly states that the problems created depend on a lack of ethics capable of transforming finance, money, business, banks from tools that serve the common good to tools "money lenders", of "pervasiveness "of "risk-taking" and "gambling", up to" signs of connivance "and" criminal associations "(nos. 14, 16, 26, 27).

All these judgments are not the result of a populist Vatican, but of the reflection and implementation of the Social Doctrine of the Church by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. And they are not even a pauperistic denunciation of some NGOs, but are based on the recognition that man is a relational being (No. 9) and that the economy needs to dialogue with politics and ethical criteria, which tend to the common good of the whole person and of all mankind (n.2).

Precisely for this reason the document destroys the myth of the "self-regulatory market" (No. 13) and asks the international community to work to create regulations (see Part III). These include certification by the authorities of the soundness of new financial products (No 19), the necessary transparency and information on trade (No 21), the separation between financial and ordinary credit banks (No 22), linking profit to social responsibility (No. 23).

Among the proposals for a change of course, there is the suggestion that in every bank have an ethics committee alongside the board of directors (# 24); that offshore accounts are taxed (n.30); a fair taxation of taxes (paragraph 31); structural reforms to reduce public debt (n.32).

Lastly, the document calls on everyone to make an ethical commitment, even in consumption and "in our wallet", choosing to put our savings into banks that do not violate "the most basic human rights", or by choosing products from companies that do not have profit as their sole purpose, but are inspired by "ethics respectful of the entire human person, and of every particular person, within the horizon of social responsibility " (No. 33).

One important element: to justify all these points made, the document affirms the "the certainty that in every culture, there are multiple areas of ethical agreement that express a common moral wisdom[4] and form the objective order upon which the dignity of the person is founded ". This statement certainly goes against the trend: in his "America first" and in his fight against migrants, Donald Trump proposes a vision of the white American as superior. And even Xi Jinping, with his exaltation of the absolute cultural specificity of China, forgets many human rights of his people and the world around him.


For the integrale text of the document, look here.

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