The Group of Eight, more commonly known as G8, is a forum for the governments of eight of the world’s eleven largest national economies: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Russia. (Not included are China, Brazil, and India, which rank respectively, according to the IMF, as the 2nd, 7th and 9th economies in the world.) The heads of governments of these eight countries meet in a summit once a year. In 2013, the G8 summit is hosted by the United Kingdom, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. More precisely it was held on June 17–18, 2013 at the Lough Erne Resort, a five-star hotel and golf resort on the shore of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
On this occasion, Pope Francis wrote a letter (dated June 15) to British Prime Minister Cameron, in which he recalled the basic principles of the Church’s social teaching, explaining what are the ends and means, and stressing the need to provide “each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom”. The regular readers of MICHAEL know very well that the social dividend we advocate would perfectly answer this demand of the Holy Father. Here are large excerpts from the Pope’s letter:
As my predecessor Benedict XVI made clear, the present global crisis shows that ethics is not something external to the economy, but is an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.
The long-term measures that are designed to ensure an adequate legal framework for all economic actions, as well as the associated urgent measures to resolve the global economic crisis, must be guided by the ethics of truth. This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity.
Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers’ wombs. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.
In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today’s world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.
I wished to share these thoughts with you, Prime Minister, with a view to highlighting what is implicit in all political choices, but can sometimes be forgotten: the primary importance of putting humanity, every single man and woman, at the centre of all political and economic activity, both nationally and internationally, because man is the truest and deepest resource for politics and economics, as well as their ultimate end.