ROME, MARCH 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Group of Eight labor ministers meeting in Rome to discuss ways to help those affected by the global downturn are addressing the heart of the Church’s social teaching, says a Vatican aide.
In an article published Sunday by L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, expressed his support for the three-day summit, under way in Rome through Tuesday.
The meeting is titled “The Human Dimension of the Crisis,” and has as its focus to discuss how to strengthen welfare systems and help put people back to work.
The G-8 meeting was called to prepare for the Group of 20 summit due to begin Thursday in London. It also responds to demonstrations that have been sparked in several European capitals, leading up to the London meeting, in protest of the decreasing job availability and financial stability.
Cardinal Martino lauded the social summit initiative, as it implies “providing for the person by safeguarding his dignity through the adaptation of the social systems; beginning again from the person, and creating the conditions for the birth of new jobs.”
He explained, “These topics are important for the Church and are at the heart of her social teaching.”
The Church’s social and economic thought, the cardinal continued, “is based on the principle of the dignity of the person” as the “basic pillar of society itself” and as the “goal of all social institutions.”
Because of this, the Church’s social doctrine states that it is “in times of economic upheaval when systems of social protection must be reinforced, so that the person can enjoy his fundamental rights, put in danger by the crisis,” he added, quoting John Paul II’s “Centessimus Annus.”
Cardinal Martino also noted that the true center of economic activity: “Through work, not money or technology, man is a protagonist of development.
“And because of this it is only through work that the economy can start up again.”
Rethinking the system
The cardinal affirmed that the crisis must be an occasion to “rethink the global economic and financial system, which phenomena like globalization, migration and the issue of the environment had already begun to question over the last few years.”
It is necessary, he asserted, to articulate “new inspiring principles” based on fraternity between peoples. The cardinal said the first of these principles must be “the universal common good, which was theorized by John XXIII in ‘Pacem in Terris,'” and consists in “considering humanity as a family.”
Another principle must be the “spirit of international cooperation in the economic and financial areas and in the field of development,” which “requires that, beyond the strict logic of the market, there be awareness of the duty of solidarity,” he said.
“In fact,” Cardinal Martino added, “solidarity is central in the reorganization of the fabric of a world economy, which as the present crisis demonstrates, [though] negatively, is ever more intertwined.”
Solidarity also “implies fostering greater participation in the decision-making process by both developed as well as underdeveloped countries, by both international organizations as well as civil society in general,” he continued.
Subjects, not objects
The cardinal added a third principle of subsidiarity, “thanks to which it is possible to stimulate the spirit of initiative, fundamental basis of all socio-economic development, in poor countries themselves, so that the latter might be considered not as a problem, but as subjects and protagonists of a new and more human future for the whole world.”
The fourth principle on which the world economic system should be reorganized is that of responsibility, he noted, “which is translated into transparency, accountability, consistency and coordination between economic entities themselves and governments and civil society.”
Cardinal Martino said it is “very positive” that the International Labor Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have associated themselves with this G-8 summit.
He underlined the necessity of finding “strategies to combat poverty” in order to enhance “social cohesion,” which is one of the most serious problems caused by the crisis, given the widening gap between rich and poor.
“Finally,” the cardinal concluded, “peace, also social peace, finds its foundation in the rational and moral order of society […] it is based on a correct conception of the person and requires the building of an order based on justice and charity.”