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Scott P. Richert

A Christian Economy

By May 29, 2007

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On May 26, Pope Benedict XVI reminded a meeting of Italian entrepreneurs of the Church's understanding of economics. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many people thought that economic questions had been settled: Capitalism had won. But in his encyclical Centesimus annus (1991), Pope John Paul II warned that capitalism, like communism and socialism, threatens the dignity of man, unless it is tied to a Christian understanding that the economy serves man, rather than the other way around.

As reported by the Vatican Information Service, Pope Benedict referred to his predecessor in reminding the entrepreneurs that "Human life, and the values of human life, must always be the foundation and the final aim of the economy." In particular, businessmen should be concerned about the family life of their workers: "working in favor of families means contributing to a renewal of society and ensuring the foundations for real economic development." Young families especially need the stability of steady employment. "In order to build the future with hope, young people must be able to rely on a reliable source of income for themselves and their loved ones."

While stressing that the Church recognizes the importance that profits play in business, Pope Benedict pointed out that entrepreneurs have a responsibility to "realize their potential and make the most of their individual capacities and genius." Properly understood, labor contributes to our growth in holiness, while the pursuit of profit separate from a proper understanding of a Christian economy, especially in this age of globalization, threatens "an increase in the gap between the economic wealth of the few and the growing poverty of the many."

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