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Pope: common good, not just profit and consumption, must be society's goal

Catholic World News - May 24, 2010

"The common good is the goal that gives meaning to progress and development, which otherwise would be limited only to the production of material goods." That was the message of Pope Benedict XVI at a May 22 meeting with leaders of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation, a lay group founded by Pope John Paul II to advance Catholic social teaching.

Pope Benedict stressed that the production of material goods in itself is important and necessary, "but without the orientation to the common good, consumerism, waste, poverty, and inequality come to prevail." It is the fundamental decision to pursue the common good, not the specific economic policies, that are critically important, he said. The Pontiff told the lay Catholic activists that society will flourish "so long as globalization is guided by guided by solidarity and the common good and by social justice."

Because the meeting took place against a background of keen anxieties in Europe about the uncertain economic future, the Pope's remarks on financial affairs drew widespread interest. In a reference to the world's economic woes, the Pope said that problems arise when world leaders "do no react with adequate decisions to govern finance." He insisted that financial systems must be under the control of society at large. "Politics must have primacy over finance," the Pope said; "and ethics must be the guiding force for all activities."

While most media accounts of the Pope's speech understandably emphasized his comments on the turmoil in the world's financial markets, the Holy Father made at least two other noteworthy points about the application of Catholic social doctrine.

First, the Pope said that foreign aid should be provided to poor countries in ways that build up, rather than circumvent or replace, healthy local institutions. He said:

Economic aid must, then, be accompanied by measures that aim to reinforce the guarantees of the rule of law, a just and efficient system of public order in full respect for human rights, and truly democratic and participative institutions.
Second, the Pope stressed that a healthy society must allow for the expression of religious beliefs in public discussions. He condemned the "exclusion of religion from public life-- and, at the other extreme, religious fundamentalism."

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - May. 24, 2010 10:46 PM ET USA

    While you are using "politics" to redistribute wealth for "the common good", remember Ps 146:3 "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help." 1 Tim 5:18 "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."

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