Cardinal Bertone Calls for "New Humanism"

Addresses European University of Rome

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By Luca Marcolivio

ROME, NOV. 25, 2009 ( Charity, truth and justice are key words in the articulation of a new social and economic humanism, the Vatican secretary of state told the students and professors of the European University of Rome.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said this Tuesday in his lecture to open the academic year of the university. He used Benedict XVI’s most recent encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” as the reference point of his talk.

The cardinal said the encyclical “returns man to the center of a new humanism, whose values are charity and truth.”

He said the Pope pointed out charity and truth as “two fundamental realities” that are not “extrinsic to man, much less imposed on him in the name of some ideological vision.”
Cardinal Bertone noted that in economic humanism, human behavior “is not inspired by subjectivism, directed to egoism, through hedonist calculations, but by solidarity based on the common good.”


Cardinal Bertone placed the birth of this economic humanism between the 14th and 15th centuries — at the center of an “ample and impetuous European cultural movement” in which “man was rediscovered, leading him again to the center of the world, that is, to the center of all moral and spiritual interests.”
The cardinal called this moment in the late Medieval period as “the greatest revolution, after the Neolithic and before the industrial, of which Europe was the theater.” He also noted that “spiritual charisms,” especially Christianity, had an indispensable role in bringing about the revolution.
“Europe would not be as we know it today […] without the Benedictine and Franciscan movement, in which fundamental innovations had their origin, also for that which would later become the market economy,” affirmed Cardinal Bertone.
The cardinal explained that after the year 1000, the proliferation of Benedictine abbeys posed the problem, also addressed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, of the “risk of a non-productive accumulation of lands and riches.”In the “Carta Caritatis” of 1098, Cardinal Bertone noted, two principles are delineated: “On one hand, it is stated that it is not licit ‘to build one’s own abundance obtaining it by the impoverishment of another.'”


Moreover, he added, the same letter replaces the term “alms” with that of “beneficence,” and explains that “the need of one asking for help must be evaluated with intelligence.”

“The reasons must be understood why a poor man is so,” the cardinal said, and “beneficence must not motivate laziness in the needy.”

Cardinal Bertone called for a “second humanism” that will provide answers to the current economy marked by “globalization, liberalization, financing, new technologies, global migrations, social inequalities, identity conflicts and environmental risks.”

He said the current financial crisis has been caused in part by the neglect of the “ethical dimension” of business, and called for a “return to morality, which means, above all, responsibility of the person — rather than of governments.”
The cardinal noted that business ethics must not be neglected which, in the globalized economy, “must be directed increasingly to ethics and less to profit.”

In this connection, Cardinal Bertone quoted the encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” which, far from distinguishing simply between profit and non-profit, describes “a new ample complex reality, which involves the private and public, and which does not exclude profit, but considers it an instrument for human and social ends.”

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