Pope Francis’ Call for Sustainable, Integral Development

Check out these highlights from this excellent speech by the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, at the Global Responsibility 2030 conference meeting in Germany:

  • Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges facing the human family.
  • It is no longer sufficient to measure human progress only in terms of a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP was always an inadequate measure of well-being. As a gross measure, it ignored significant variations of outcomes among sub-populations – and we now have disastrous gaps between the super-rich and the utterly destitute. As a single measure, it always ignored other essential foundations of well-being.
  • Social inclusion and environmental sustainability are intrinsic to true development.
  • True development must be sustainable development. It must rest on three legs—economic, social, and environmental. And if one leg is neglected, then the entire structure collapses.
  • Sustainable development calls for a world in which economic progress is widespread, poverty is eliminated, the resources of the earth are shared fairly, the environment is protected from human-induced degradation, and all people can flourish.
  • The problem, says Pope Francis, is not so much the market economy itself, but the ideology that too often lies behind it—the “deified market” or the “magical conception of the market” which resist the necessary political oversight and regulation.
  • The solution, according to Catholic social teaching, is to choose solidarity over self-interest, the common good over profit maximization, integral human development over materialism, and sustainability over short-termism. That does not mean rejecting the market; it does mean recognizing its clear limits, and keeping it under human and ethical control.
  • In Catholic social teaching, integral human development refers to the development of the whole person and every person. Such multi-faceted development goes well beyond an ever-expanding GDP, even a better-distributed one, and merely economic or material progress. It encompasses the cultural, social, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious dimensions. It is an invitation for each person on the planet to flourish, to use the gifts given to them by God to become who they were meant to be.
  • Pope Francis is calling on all people to pursue a kind of progress that is more integral, more sustainable, and ultimately more worthwhile.
  • Rapacious profits are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets; corruption, bribery, and cruelty are not intrinsic to well-functioning markets. Indeed, the opposite is true.
  • Overcoming the interrelated social and environmental crises will require a wholly different attitude—a cultural revolution, he says. By this, the Holy Father does not mean a naïve rejection of technology and the benefits of modern society. No, he means putting human ingenuity in the service of a better kind of progress—one that is healthier, more human, more social, and more integral. In turn, this calls for us to overturn what he calls the myths of modernity—individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, a market without rules.
  • Pope Francis is calling for sustainable development, yes, but ultimately for a deeper vision of what is to be served by that development: the Earth returned to its health and beauty, home for all our future generations.

Pope Francis should win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

Millennial at NCR WeekIn the latest Millennial at Distinctly Catholic article, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

Critics of the Nobel Peace Prize often note its glaring omissions, perplexing choices, and selection of those with pasts that are checkered at best. But the award has gone to many extraordinary champions of human rights and genuine peace: Martin Luther King, Jr., Lech Wałęsa, Elie Wiesel, Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Liu Xiaobo, and Jody Williams are just a few of the many worthy recipients.

While Mother Teresa won the award in 1979, no pope has ever received the honor of being a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. That should change this year.

For his leadership in confronting climate change and the degradation of the environment, Pope Francis should win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. He has had a transformative impact on the public’s consciousness of the grave threats facing creation, including the growing menace of climate change. He described these threats in stark terms, saying, “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”  And with this searing critique of the status quo, he has also offered a vision of a better future: sustainable development that is rooted in respect for creation and the dignity of the human person.

You can read the full post here.


The Four Preeminent Political Issues Facing the United States

1509787_313143848833467_5211246166019703651_n

Bishop Robert McElroy has a new article at America, in which he discusses faithful citizenship:

In Francis’ message he made clear that the core of the vocation of public service, and of all politics, is to promote the integral development of every human person and of society as a whole. It is a vocation that requires special and self-sacrificial concern for the poor, the unborn, the vulnerable and the marginalized. It is a commitment to pursue the common good over that of interest groups or parties or self-aggrandizement. It is a profoundly spiritual and moral undertaking.

This same spiritual and moral identity is also emblazoned upon the most foundational act of citizenship in our society, that of voting for candidates for office. Thus, ultimately it is to the citizens of our nation as a whole that the challenge of Pope Francis is directed. Catholic teaching proclaims that voting is inherently an act of discipleship for the believer. But American political life increasingly creates a distorted culture that frames voting choices in destructive categories that rob them of their spiritual character and content…..

The primary step of moral conversion to the common good requires an ever deeper affective understanding of how the commitment to the dignity of the human person radically embraces each of the issues that Pope Francis identified as constitutive of the common good of the United States at this moment in our history. It requires, in a very real sense, the development of “a Catholic political imagination” that sees the mutual linkages between poverty and the disintegration of families, war and the refugee crisis around the world, the economic burdens of the aging and our societal lurch toward euthanasia….

Bishop McElroy also outlined the “four pre-eminent political issues facing the United States that touch upon life as gift and responsibility in a decisive way”:

The first is abortion. The direct destruction of more than one million human lives every year constitutes a grievous wound upon our national soul and the common good….

The second is poverty. In a world of incredible wealth, more than five million children die every year from hunger, poor sanitation and the lack of potable water. Millions more die from a lack of the most elementary medical care….

A third pre-eminent issue centering upon life as gift and responsibility is care of the earth, our common home. The progressive degradation of the global environment has created increased poverty and death among many of the poorest peoples on earth….

The final pre-eminent question at stake in the political common good of the United States today is assisted suicide. For at its core, assisted suicide is the bridgehead of a movement to reject the foundational understanding of life as gift and responsibility when confronting end-of-life issues.

You can read the full article here.



What is the Whole Life Movement?

At its core, the whole life movement is dedicated to protecting the life and dignity of all people. It is rooted in a belief in the innate dignity and worth of every single human being. Each human being is a person with innate and equal value, and human life is sacred. From these premises comes the belief that it is never permissible to intentionally and directly take an innocent life. But the wanton disregard for life present in unjust social structures and the dehumanization of others in ways short of direct killing are also incompatible with the whole life commitment to human life and dignity. Indirect threats to life, such as the absence of access to healthcare or food, are also fundamentally incompatible with the vision of government and society the whole life movement aims to achieve: the common good. Protecting the life of all people is intimately connected to creating conditions that reflect the dignity of every single person, conditions that allow each person to reach their full potential.

The whole life movement is not a rival of the pro-life movement. Instead, it seeks to purify the pro-life movement of its inconsistencies. A pro-life movement that ignores infant mortality rates, starvation, or the degradation of the environment simply does not deserve the label ‘pro-life.’ It becomes a mere euphemism for supporting laws that restrict access to abortion. It becomes detached from the understanding of human dignity and worth that should animate the movement. Only a whole life approach can make the pro-life movement authentically pro-life. Read More


Everyone Must Act Responsibly to Save Our World

Embed from Getty Images

Cardinal Peter Turkson recently gave a speech at The Future of the Corporation: From Best in the World to Best for the World. Here are some highlights of the speech:

  • Not only is there poverty and social exclusion in the midst of plenty; economic activity is also degrading the natural environment, even to the point of threatening future human life.
  • All decisions about the natural environment are ethical decisions.
  • Technology and commerce must be held to transcendental standards of the meaning of life and of the moral outlook. They must be defined by solidarity—both with all people alive today and with those not yet born—and be oriented toward the common good.
  • All human beings are affected, and everything in nature too, by climate change, misuse of natural resources, waste and pollution.
  • Everyone must act responsibly to save our world—from individuals recycling to enterprises reducing their ecological footprints to world leaders setting and enforcing ambitious carbon reduction targets.
  • Businesses contribute to the common good by producing goods that are truly good and services that truly serve.
  • This preoccupation with wants, often called “consumerism,” severs production and consumption from the common good and impedes the development of the person.
  • The production of goods and services must abide by truth instead of mere pleasure or utility.
  • New products and services—such as microenterprises, microcredit, social enterprises and impact investment—have played an important role insofar as they help the poor to address their own needs. These innovations will not only help people to lift themselves from extreme poverty but also spark their creativity and entrepreneurship and help launch a dynamic of inclusive development.
  • Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God.
  • Business must always subordinate profits to generating employment — affirming, as he put it, the priority of labor over capital.
  • The business objective of ‘good wealth’ focuses on generating sustainable wealth and distributing it justly.
  • The logic of competition promotes short-termism, which leads to financial failure and devastation of the environment.
  • The Holy Father is not anti-business; he decries an obsession with profit and the deification of the market. But when it comes to the challenges of sustainable development, he calls upon business to lead by harnessing its creativity to solve pressing human needs.
  • If business is to lead, then let’s deploy the finance, re-organization, and technology needed to decarbonize the global economy.
  • Caring for our common home requires, as Pope Francis says, not just an economic and technological revolution, but also a cultural spiritual revolution—a profoundly different way of approaching the relationship between people and the environment, a new way of ordering the global economy. And this in turn, places a great responsibility on the shoulders of business leaders and also popular leaders. But I am confident that you are up to the task!

 


The Climate Cardinal: Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez

IMG_1985

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a key advisor to Pope Francis and chair of his Council of Cardinals, recently spoke at Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical: Protecting the Planet and the Poor, an event cosponsored by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Georgetown Law Center’s Environmental Law Program and Climate Change Center, and the Global Futures Initiative. He also sat down with journalists for an hour before the event to talk about Pope Francis, Laudato Si, and protecting creation. Here are a dozen interesting points the ‘Climate Cardinal’ made on climate change, protecting creation, Laudato Si, Pope Francis, and politics:

  1. You can see California in flames—without water. All around the world we have these problems nowadays.
  2. Cop21 in Paris (the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference) can be a turning point for putting Laudato Si into practice. It has to be a success!
  3. There are countries in the Pacific that will disappear if we fail to address climate change.
  4. This is not just a scientific issue. It’s about life. It’s about being just with creation. It is about the human person.
  5. We need a revolution in ecology.
  6. Each of us has to take on our co-responsibility for our common home. We cannot be closed down within our own borders. We are all citizens of earth.
  7. The market is not a god! When you adore different gods (idols), you become blind to reality.
  8. Politics is about serving the common good, not a party or narrow interests. And it can’t just be about the next election.
  9. Laudato Si may be the new Rerum Novarum.
  10. We pastors see the reality of poverty that those looking at statistics do not; we see it in the concrete faces of the poor.
  11. We are called to: see, judge, and act.
  12. Is Pope Francis pessimistic? Reality is what it is. But there remains hope rooted in faith…we are headed to the full realization in Christ.

You can read more about the event, which also featured Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, and John Podesta, former Counselor to President Barack Obama on climate change and energy policy, here.