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Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, stresses the concept of fraternity as the basis for a moral economy, moral society, and moral relationships among nations.  

A longing for fraternity, the pope argues, lives within every human heart:

In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced. Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace.

Too often, Pope Francis explains, this human desire for fraternity has been undermined by other human inclinations, those of selfishness, envy, and greed.  He argues that those inclinations form a poor foundation for human societies and economies, and that we must build a foundation for society and the economy based on the “transcendent dimension” of humanity:

The necessary realism proper to politics and economy cannot be reduced to mere technical know-how bereft of ideals and unconcerned with the transcendent dimension of man.
With this transcendent dimension lacking, “every human activity is impoverished and persons are reduced to objects that can be exploited.”

In turning to an explicit focus on the economy, Pope Francis criticizes “the greedy pursuit of material goods on the one hand, and the impoverishment of interpersonal and community relations on the other” which have pushed people to “seek satisfaction, happiness, and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy” and led to serious economic crises.  

When his criticism of “unfettered capitalism” was labeled “Marxist,” Pope Francis responded:

The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended. There is nothing in [my] Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church.
Pope Francis brings his deepest values to his understanding of the economy.  The economy is meant to serve men and women, to provide a means for them to flourish in the world.  Men and women were not created to serve the economy.  Quoting Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis emphasized that humans are not to be “exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful.”

On this World Day of Peace, Pope Francis brings a much-needed values-based perspective to discussions about the economy.   May leaders the world over heed his call to bring the moral dimension into economic discussions.  Without it, we are lost.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, Hammerhand, Dumbo, Mark Lippman

    Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., author of Soul at Work (Seabury Books, 2005), The Soul of a Leader (Crossroad, 2008), and co-editor of The Soul of Supervision (Morehouse, 2010), serves as Executive Officer of Executive Soul, LLC.

    by mbenefiel on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 04:45:33 PM PST

  •  As I read the Pope's exhortation, I come across (0+ / 0-)

    sections that I wish others could also read, so I will share a quotation here:

    Solidarity is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognize that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods are realities which come before private property.
    I grew up in the Roman Catholic intellectual tradition which is mostly unknown in the US today.  The Pope's writing is recognizable to me and he would be a good ally for the Left but Americans tend to resist. We have separation of church and state, and the church itself is problematic. Women and gays have been hurt by church leaders pushing dogma that isn't found in the Gospels.

    Americans also expect the Pope to rule on doctrine the way that the supreme Court does with the Constitutionality of legislation. The intellectual tradition is, by definition, decentralized. It depends on the individual using his or her own rational mind. No one needs permission from the church or the pope to live according to what Jesus taught.  

    I hope that Americans will somehow gain the ability to hear and understand what the Pope is saying.  

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 07:43:55 PM PST

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