This week in Rome the Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice (FCAPP), the organization established in 1993 by Pope John Paul II to promote the social doctrine of the Church, convened an international conference to examine the theme of “Rethinking Key Features of Economic and Social Life.”
During this conference, French economist Pierre de Lauzun was honored with the second biennial Economy and Society Prize for his 2013 work Finance. Un Regard Chretien: De la banque medievale a la modalisation financiere (Finance: A Christian Perspective from Medieval Banking to Globalization).
This book studies the morality of those who operate in the financial markets from the time of the medieval banks to those who govern our modern globalized financial system. He suggests that no financial transaction can or should be disconnected from social reality and moral demands and mandates that finance should be used as a tool for human development.
His conclusion is that solid market rules help but are of no significance if society’s moral values are missing. He challenges Christians to rise and take a stronger role in the marketplace, building on the truths of their faith.
The Foundation’s conference brought leading international experts together to address three key questions:
— Can growth continue without compulsive consumption? Professor Mary Hirschfeld of Villanova University lead this discussion with contributions from Spanish entrepreneur Alfonso Carcasona, Professor Robert Galhl of the Pontificia Universita della Santa Croce and Michael Bonello, former Governor of the Central Bank of Malta.
— What is the future of employment and the “informal” economy? This discussion was chaired by Professor Paul Dembinski of the University of Fribourg, with special insight from former Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policies Enrico Giovannini with panel contributions from Paul Kenny, the Secretary General of the GMB Workers’ Union from the United Kingdom, Professors Mauro Magatti, Giovanni Marseguerra and Chiara Giaccardi from the Universita del Sacro Cuore in Milan.
— Can Catholic Social Teaching be spread even without the Christian faith? FCAPP Board member Joseph F.X. Zahra lead this dynamic discussion with contributions from Dean Sally Blount of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, German financier Ulrich Schroder, Director of the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations (Geneva), S.E.R. Mons. Silvano Maria Tomasi and Andrea Bardavid, investment professional and President of Keren Hayesod (the United Israel Appeal).
FCAPP’s mission is rooted in Pope John Paul’s historic 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus (One hundredth year—commemorating and expanding upon Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum), a key magisterial teaching focused on economic and social justice. It is further supported by a wealth of social teaching from the Magisterium.
The work of FCAPP is to help promote a deeper understanding of the Church’s core social principles of (1) the primacy of the human person, (2) the notion of subsidiarity, (3) and the value of solidarity and (4) the promotion of the common good.
Pope Francis encouraged the conference participants by 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).
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in his address to the conference participants, reminded the participants that Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), teaches that at the heart of this ethical and anthropological crisis is “the denial of the primacy of the human person. We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf 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.”
Cardinal Parolin commended conference participants for their “disciplined reflection in response to these observations of Pope Francis.”
The Foundation’s work of “promoting informed knowledge of the social teaching of the Church and of the activity of the Holy See among qualified and socially-motivated business and professional leaders” is led by a nine-member Board of Directors, a 15-member academic Scientific Committee, and a 20-member Advisory Committee.
It is supported by ecclesiastic counsellors from Germany, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland. The Foundation is also represented by coordinators in Canada, Germany, Italy, Malta. Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.