The Christian Ethics of Socio-Economic Development Promoted by the Catholic Social Teaching
Posted: 30 Sep 2011 Last revised: 9 May 2013
Date Written: September 15, 2011
This paper highlights the relationship between economic science and Christian moral in order to analyze the idea of socio-economic development promoted by the Catholic Social Teaching (CST). This analysis shows how the perspective of Catholic thought concerning socio-economic development is characterized by a integral humanism as defined by Jacques Maritain (1937). In particular, the present study describes the phases related to the formation process of the concept of development in the CST. In the previous period to the Second Vatican Council (1891-1962), from Pope Leo XIII to Pope John XXIII, the idea of development is connected both to technical and industrial progress, and to the universal values of justice, charity, and truth which the national communities are asked to follow. During the Conciliar period (1962-1979), the concept of development assumes a social and economical dimension and so it becomes one of the main pillars of Catholic Social Teaching which introduces the earliest definition of integral human development. Ultimately, in the post-Conciliar phase (1979-2009) including Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the idea of integral human development reaches its maturity by taking the complexity of real-world economic interactions into consideration. The Catholic Social Teaching is linked to various issues: human dignity, labour protection, economic exchanges, the relationships among countries. Finally, the paper shows how the ethics bolstered by the Catholic Social Teaching is characterized by two distinct but complementary lines of thought: the moral rules for political action, and the ones for socio-economic issues. All these moral rules should influence socio-economic policies with the purpose of shaping a society inspired to Christian charity. Therefore, the present research is aimed to encourage the dialogue between economic science and moral philosophy, and in particular, between economic studies related to socio-economic development and Christian moral. In fact, understanding how to apply integral humanism to the policies for development as well to the international relationships represents an important theme on which to reflect.
Keywords: Socio-Economic Development, Catholic Social Teaching, Integral Human Development, Ethics, Economics
JEL Classification: A13, B10, B19, B20, B29, B50, O10, Z12
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