ADDRESS OF CARDINAL PIETRO
PAROLIN, SECRETARY OF STATE,
TO THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
"RETHINKING KEY FEATURES
OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL LIFE"
PROMOTED BY THE CENTESIMUS ANNUS - PRO PONTIFICE FOUNDATION
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Your Eminence, Dear Friends,
We have now come to the end of this most stimulating International
Conference of the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation.
This two-day meeting has confirmed once again how your Foundation – by
remaining faithful to the responsibility entrusted to it by Saint John Paul
II in 1993 – can render valuable service for a wider and better knowledge of
the social doctrine of the Church. It does so by promoting the application
of this doctrine through robust dialogue among specialists, economists,
university instructors and others who bring their life experience to the
world of economics.
The theme chosen by the Conference, Rethinking Key Features of
Economic and Social Life, is thus particularly significant. It recalls
the challenge of Pope Benedict XVI to “further and deeper reflection on the
meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted
revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its
dysfunctions and deviations” (Caritas
in Veritate, 32).
It is important that the Foundation is taking up this challenge with
dedication and competence, in the light of the Church’s social teaching. Its
main point of reference must be the dignity of the human person and the
promotion of the common good. We live in a time in which, unfortunately, the
prevalent economic model reveals numerous shortcomings, dysfunctions and
deviations which weigh heavily on the state of the planet’s health. These
affect the ethical and moral principles which guide many forms of behaviour
within the human family.
Nonetheless, it is important to realize that there are increasing demands
from various sectors of society for a careful examination of how best to
respond to these distortions. The ethical principles underlying the Church’s
social teaching can serve as a scheme of reference and a key to
interpretation in this effort.
In this context, the Foundation is awarding its second biennial Economy
and Society Prize. In doing so, it helps to draw attention to the quality of
original projects which can aid in developing new areas of application of
the principles of Catholic teaching, and increase its influence on concrete
I give warm thanks to Cardinal Marx and to the entire jury, made up of
specialists from ten countries, for their careful study and selection of the
It is most significant that the prize is being awarded for a book which
offers a Christian view on the world of finance. This calls for an
attentive, in-depth historical analysis, for already in the Middle Ages
within the Catholic Church original thought and research was being developed
on monetary and financial issues. History is the teacher of life, as Cicero
reminds us (De Oratore, II, 9, 36). In this field too, our rich
history can undoubtedly orient an in-depth investigation into this matter of
great contemporary import.
We are all aware that such a reflection is today even more necessary in a
globalized world where financial activity is carried out with considerably
complex means and instruments, and at times risks losing sight of its
original aims, which must always be anchored in the dignity of the human
person, and the common good.
The jury wished also to draw attention to two doctoral theses which show
the increasing depth and number of studies on the social doctrine of the
Church being pursued in different universities of the Catholic world.
His Holiness Pope Francis has addressed you on several occasions,
emphasizing that “the current crisis is not only economic and financial but
is rooted in an ethical and anthropological crisis” (Address
to the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, 25 May 2013). In
his Apostolic Exhortation
Evangelii Gaudium, he has stated that at the heart of this ethical
and anthropological crisis is, and I quote, “the denial of the primacy of
the human person. We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient
golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the
idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a
truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy
lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for
human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption” (No.
55). Symptomatic of this is the culture of waste which the Holy Father has
frequently denounced, a culture which conceals a rejection of ethics, and
frequently a rejection of God as well.
In these two days you have engaged in a disciplined reflection in
response to these observations of Pope Francis. You have considered issues
linked to the world of labour, and also economic and financial problems
which can lead such activity away from its calling to the service of
integral human development.
Retrieving this calling in economic life is one of the principal tasks
for a Foundation such as yours, whose goals include “promoting informed
knowledge of the social teachings of the Church and of the activity of the
Holy See among qualified and socially motivated business and professional
leaders” (By-Laws of the Foundation, Art. 3(a), Section 1, 25 June
Pope Benedict XVI frequently stated that “every economic decision has a
moral consequence” (Caritas
in Veritate, 37). Retrieving this calling necessitates returning to
the fundamental meaning of such concepts as economy and development, finding
adequate ways of applying them for the integral development of every person
and the whole person, as Pope Paul VI encouraged in
Populorum Progressio (No. 14), not only for the short term, but for
the long term too.
Once again, the key to this is the moral formation of individual persons
needed at every level, which can lead them to rediscover the meaning of
personal and collective work in the service of integral human development.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you these reflections. I
offer you my best wishes for fruitfulness of the Foundation’s work, which I
trust will be oriented ever more fully towards the planning and structuring
of the economic and financial sphere within a healthy and robust ethical