From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
In his latest encyclical, Charity in Truth, Pope Benedict XVI expresses concern about the global economy and its overemphasis on profit at the expense of human and community needs. “Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value.” (40) The pope’s solution to this situation is not only government regulation of businesses, but the creation of new business models where human and community effects are considered a fundamental part of the bottom line. In many ways, he describes alternative businesses that are part of the rapidly expanding solidarity economy.
Pope Benedict writes, “Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end … Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.” (21) It is clear that “[e]conomic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good” (36 – emphasis in original)
He also points out how merely relying on governments to make the economy more equitable is no longer enough:
“Perhaps at one time it was conceivable that first the creation of wealth could be entrusted to the economy, and then the task of distributing it could be assigned to politics. Today that would be more difficult, given that economic activity is no longer circumscribed within territorial limits, while the authority of governments continues to be principally local. Hence the canons of justice must be respected from the outset, as the economic process unfolds, and not just afterwards or incidentally.” (37)