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Friday, March 30, 2012


Vatican City, 30 March 2012 (VIS) - "Religious perspectives on the current financial crisis: vision for a just economic order" was the theme of the eleventh meeting of the Bilateral Commission of the Delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, which was held in Rome from 27 to 29 March. The event was presided by Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, and by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In an English-language joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, the two sides highlight that, "while many factors contributed to the financial crisis, at its roots lies a crisis of moral values in which the importance of having, reflected in a culture of greed, eclipsed the importance of being; and where the value of truth reflected in honesty and transparency was sorely lacking in economic activity".

"At the heart of Jewish and Catholic visions for a just economic order is the affirmation of the sovereignty and providence of the Creator of the world with Whom all wealth originates and which is given to humankind as a gift for the common good", the text adds. Therefore "the purpose of an economic order is to serve the well being of society, affirming the human dignity of all people, each created in the divine image". This concept "is antithetical to egocentricity. Rather, it requires the promotion of the well being of the individual in relation to community and society". It also "posits the obligation to guarantee certain basic human needs, such as the protection of life, sustenance, clothing, housing, health, education and employment". The commission also identifies certain particularly vulnerable categories of people, among them migrant and foreign workers "whose condition serves as a measure of the moral health of society".

The statement recalls the obligation on countries with developed economies "to recognise their responsibilities and duties towards countries and societies in need, especially in this era of globalisation". In this context the participants in the meeting recall "the universal destination of the goods of the earth; a culture of “enough” that implies a degree of self-limitation and modesty; responsible stewardship; an ethical system of allocation of resources and priorities". They likewise mention the "partial remission of debts on national and international levels", highlighting the need "to extend this to families and individuals".

The members of the bilateral commission underscore the role that faith communities must play in contributing to a responsible economic order, and the importance of their engagement by government, educational institutions, and the media. Finally they note how "the crisis has revealed the profound lack of an ethical component in economic thinking. Hence, it is imperative that institutes and academies of economic studies and policy formation include ethical training in their curricula, similar to that which has developed in recent years in the field of medical ethics".


  1. All the above comment takes for granted the moral legitimacy of the current economic behaviour of the majority of the human race, most businesses and most groups and of all lands, nations and countries.
    This current behaviour fails to factor in the actual cost to the earth consisting of current living occupants and descendants until the third or fourth generation, of using the oxygen, water, food and fibre newly generated by sunlight as well as the finite quantity of accumulated resources of oil, gas, coal, uranium, thorium, biologically generated fertiliser and the like as well as the cost of cleaning up the garbage and pollution necessarily or carelessly generated by living and participating in all said economies as currently practised.
    As it has done in the past, we need the Church as a matter of urgency to seek the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit about this morally defective behaviour and implore guidance and direction for proper reform, first of our Christian selves and then of our Christian institutions so that we may, by being Charismatically institutional, leaven the lump of the secular world.
    Dr Phillip A Chalmers

  2. The reasoning here is far to conventional and secular.
    The world is in economic crisis because the entire economic order has been operating on a grave error. The error is that the value of fresh air, clean water, animal and plant food and clothing materials are not factored into the equation but treated as free and of unlimited supply.
    All oil and coal, all oxygen and soil, all mineral resources are finite and essentially non-renewable from scratch.
    The Church has a mission, to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit on how to act and preach and teach the answer to the faithful who must put it into practice. The institutions of the Church must do this too and so exemplify this to the world.


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