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Moral laws must direct economics too

on Saturday, 01 October 2005. Posted in Church teachings

(Note: the following article was first published in our March-April, 1986 issue.)

In the beginning of October, 1985, the sixth symposium of European Bishops was held in Rome. The then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), who was the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had repeated the condemnation made by the Church on economic liberalism and Marxism. He reminded us of the Church's moral responsibility in the economic order; he advocated the necessity of subjecting the economy of nations to moral laws, and he declared that we must find a solution, new economic ideas, that would free the present world from poverty in spite of actual abundance.

This is the right answer to those who, for the last 50 years, have reproached the Social Crediters of the "Michael" Journal for mixing religion with economics. "To mix ethics, religion with economics, with politics, this is exactly what should be done," said the Church. And if the priests do not do it themselves, it is they who do not carry out their duties. To mix religion with politics, with economics, does not mean priests should be elected members of parliaments, but that they must preach truth and justice in politics, as His Holiness Pope John Paul II constantly did.

Gilberte Côté-Mercier

from Cardinal Ratzinger

In my name and on behalf of the two other Prefects, Cardinals Hoffner and Etchegaray, I bring warm greetings to you all, here assembled for the symposium on the Church and economics. I am pleased that, with the help of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, of the International Association of Catholic Universities, the German Economic Institute, and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, it has been possible to hold a world discussion of a question that concerns all of us.

The economic imbalance between the North and the South on our globe has become an increasing threat to the cohesion of the human family. It is a long-term threat which is as serious for the continuation of our history as arms arsenals, with which the East and the West confront each other.

So we must repeat our efforts to overcome this tension, since all the other previous methods have turned out to be ineffective, and that, on the contrary, for the last thirty years, poverty has spread throughout the world in a really staggering scale.

In order to find solutions that really bring progress, we will need new economic ideas, even though they lack a new moral impetus, or seem inconceivable and, above all, not workable. This is why the possibility and the necessity of a dialogue between the Church and economics arises.

Because the international imbalance between different sectors of the world economy have jeopardized free market since the fifties, attempts have been made to establish a balance in the economy through development projects. But one can no more lose sight of the fact that these attempts, in their present forms, have been a failure, and that the imbalance has still increased. Consequently, large parts of the Third World, which had first turned to these aids to development with great hopes, now see the market economy as the cause of their poverty, regarding it as a system of exploitation, a structure of sin and injustice. Thus, they started to consider a centralized economy as an attractive moral alternative to which they could turn with a virtual religious fervour. (...)

For while a market economy rests on the required effects of egotism and its automatic restriction by other concurrent egotisms, we have the impression here that a just centralized direction seems to prevail, a system aimed at getting equal rights for all and a fair distribution of all the goods to everyone. To tell the truth, examples of this have not been encouraging so far, but there are still hopes that the concept of morality can, without doubt, lead to success.

In my attempt to sketch out the constellation of a dialogue between the Church and economics, I found another aspect. It comes from the well-known words of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912: "I think that the assimilation of the Latin-American countries by the United States will be long and difficult as long as these countries will remain Catholic." Similarly, Rockefeller, speaking in Rome in 1969, recommended that Catholics in these countries be replaced by other Christians.

In these two statements, religion is viewed as a social factor and, consequently, an economic factor too that can determine the subsequent development of political structures and economic possibilities. This reminds us of Max Weber's theory on the internal affinity between capitalism and Calvinism, between the implementation of an economic order and a determining religious idea.

Here it almost seems that they are imbued with Marx's ideas: it is not the economy that produces religious ideas, but the basic orientations of religion that determine the economic system that will prevail. The idea that only Protestantism can breed a free economy while Catholicism does not bring the same education to liberty and required self-discipline, but rather favours totalitarian systems, is certainly still largely spread today.

An economic policy that is not only directed towards the welfare of particular groups and, actually, not only towards the welfare of a particular nation, but towards the common welfare of the whole human family, requires the highest degree of religious strength.

The forming of a political will to govern the laws of economics to that end seems almost impossible, despite all great humanitarian assurances. It can be realized only if entirely new moral strengths are released to that end. A morality which considers itself incapable of trampling the experts' knowledge of the laws of economics is not a true morality; it is, at the very most, moralism, the opposite of true morality.

An objectivity which thinks it can get off without genius shows an ignorance of human reality. It is consequently everything but objective. Today, we need the highest degree of economic expertise so that we may put this economic expertise at the service of just goals, and make this knowledge workable and socially feasible.

Let us hope that, with this alliance between morality and economics, we will be able to take a step leading us to more knowledge and a better action, and thus finally to more peace, more freedom, and more unity among the human family.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Comments of the "Michael" Journal

Those who are acquainted with Social Credit know quite well that it is the solution of genius that introduces moral laws into economics. First, Social Credit takes away from the present swindling banking system its powers to continue ruining, economically, all men and peoples on earth. It is the first step to take if we want a just economy, an economy in accordance with moral laws.

And Social Credit guarantees to each and every citizen of all nations a periodic social dividend that would ensure them the necessities of life. It is the distribution of the 20thcentury progress and abundance to each, since progress belongs to no particular individual, but to each man on earth. This is still justice, ethics. This dividend will come in addition to wages for those who are employed.

And Social Credit favours private enterprise; it finances it without interest so that it can supply consumers with products. It is the opposite of state-owned corporations, the opposite of Socialism, of Communism. Private enterprise is the method that has been thoroughly tried and tested to supply an unlimited abundance in production. Social Credit rids the economy of its banking cancers. Social Credit sets private enterprise really free and, at the same time, supplies consumers with money through the dividend and through a social discount on prices that makes prices decrease at the rate of overproduction.

Social Credit fully meets all the requirements of justice, of ethics in economics. Social Credit is both Catholic and scientific. It is the same Creator who gave men the Ten Commandments and who created science. Ethics and economics come from the same source, God the Creator.

Gilberte Coté-Mercier

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