Vatican City, 25 October 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, 24 October, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke at the conference organised by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies dedicated to the theme of “Human Dignity and Human Development”, marking the inauguration of the University of Notre Dame Global Gateway.
The cardinal observed that “the topics which have been discussed show that, in speaking of the relationship between development and human dignity, the terms 'economy', 'economic systems' and the like, can all be employed as synonyms for the term 'development'. This in itself helps us to appreciate better the challenges we face in promoting human dignity. Development is in fact closely linked to the proper management of resources in poorer countries, and the economic decisions made by wealthy countries, which have positive or negative repercussions on the economy of developing countries. But the more fundamental reason for beginning with economics is that the Church’s social teaching has constantly emphasised that the greatest obstacles to universal and integral human development are found in a distorted vision of man and economic activity, one which threatens the dignity of the human person”.
The secretary of State remarked on the continuity between of Francis' magisterium and that of his predecessors, especially Benedict XVI, who “using very similar words, warn that the problems of development and the just regulation of the economy remain insoluble without a holistic vision of the human person and a commitment to constant and coherent moral standards firmly grounded in the natural law and the pursuit of the common good”. As Benedict XVI writes in his encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”, “development will never be fully guaranteed through automatic or impersonal forces, whether they derive from the market or from international politics. Development is impossible without upright men and women, without financiers and politicians whose consciences are finely attuned to the requirements of the common good”.
“Conversion of mind and heart is thus required if economic activity as a whole is to be genuinely directed to integral human development”, Cardinal Parolin emphasised. “A 'Promethean faith' in the market, or in other ideologies and forms of aprioristic thinking, will need to be replaced by faith in God and a transcendent vision of men and women as God’s children. This in turn will lead to intellectual conversion in the sense of developing an economic science and praxis which begins with an integral understanding of the human person, that is placed at the service of human development, and is capable of orienting production and consumption to authentic human fulfilment, in our relationship with God and with our neighbour”.