Excerpts from an article by Carl Anderson on “Religion, Ethics and the Market”
Today we face an economic crisis of enormous proportions. We must look at what went wrong in our economy and how we can repair it. I believe that the importance of each individual’s moral decision-making will be critical if we are to succeed.
Two decades ago, shortly after the fall of European communism, then Czech President Vaclav Havel said: “We live in a morally contaminated environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only about ourselves. […] We have to understand this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. […] If we realize this, hope will return to our hearts.”
As early as 1985 Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, warned that an economic crisis in the West was possible because of a decline of ethics in economic matters. Then in the early 1990’s Pope John Paul II made it clear that any system of consumerism that reduced man to the sphere of economics and the satisfaction of material needs resulted in pushing aside God and morality. They were in agreement that the market rules function only when a moral consensus exists and sustains them.
Much pain could have been avoided if the individual members of our economy had heeded our Pope’s words in 1985, or his predecessor’s in 1991, and if capitalism with a conscience had been the norm. Solutions to our economic situation must therefore transcend the technical and legal, and also include the ethical.
Source: www.zenit.org/article-26182?l=english. June 15, 2009