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Vatican diplomat: Economic policy should focus on persons, not goods and services

Catholic World News - March 10, 2010

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, urged the international community to focus on persons, rather than goods and services, in overcoming the financial crisis. Archbishop Tomasi made his remarks on March 3 during the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council; the Holy See published them on March 9.

“The Delegation of the Holy See wants to restate its conviction that the perspective of human rights provides a positive contribution for a solution to the current financial crisis,” he said. “Even though some signs of recovery seem visible, the crisis continues to aggravate the conditions of millions of people in their access to the basic necessities of life and has adversely compromised the retirement plans of many … In the establishment of new regulations and reliable governance there exists a unique opportunity to address the root causes of the crisis and to affirm an integrated approach to the implementation of all economic, social, civil and political human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“The common goal is the protection and respect of human dignity that binds together the entire human family, a unity rooted on the four basic principles of the centrality of the human person, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good,” he added. Citing Pope Benedict’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Archbishop Tomasi urged the international community “to overcome the obsolete dichotomy between the economic, social and ecological spheres. Markets and freedom are important requirements in building a healthy society, but the context within which they operate is global and must include the universal principles of honesty, justice, solidarity and in addition the principles of ‘reciprocity and gift.”

“The focus of concern in the reform of the financial system, and the economic models that are operative in government programs and corporate policies, should shift from goods and services to the persons who are recipients of these services,” he added; “in this way, they have access to the resources to improve their position in life and thus place their talents at the service of their local community and the universal common good.”

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