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Pope challenges Christians in marketplace: find economic logic beyond profit

October 17, 2011

The enormous social and economic changes of the past 120 years have not changed the “inner richness” of Rerum Novarum, the ground-breaking social encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Benedict XVI said on October 15.

Pope Benedict was speaking to the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation, which was holding its annual conference in Rome on the 20th anniversary of Centesimus Annus--the encyclical released by Pope John Paul II to mark the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. The foundation’s conference also coincided with the 30th anniversary of Familiaris Consortio, in which Blessed John Paul II reflected on the vocation of the family. Therefore the foundation had dedicated its conference to a discussion of economics and family life.

Pope Benedict remarked that “economic laws must always take account of the interests and the protection of this fundamental cell of society.” In today’s troubled economic environment, many families are suffering and a new approach to economic affairs is needed, the Pontiff argued.

Simple justice is not enough to ensure an economic system that favors the family, the Pope said. “In order for true justice to exist, it is necessary to add gratuitousness and solidarity.” These qualities are not ensured by the free market, nor can they be delegated to the state, he said.

Thus, the Pope said, the challenge for Christians is to devise “those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself.”


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