It has always seemed to me that the gospel is chiefly concerned with love and justice. Simply read Matthew 5-7, and then Matthew 25 and you learn quite quickly that what the faith is about is treating our fellow human beings with dignity, repect, and - most importanly - justice.
The justice spoken of here is not retributive justice, but distributive justice - giving each their due and treaing no one unfairly. Fair distribution is the heart of the Pope's new encyclical. In essence, Popel Benedict's claim is that the current world econcomy is unjust.
Our current econcomy is built on multi-national corporations. Such coroporations can go anywhere in the world to escape paying taxes, lay off workers in one place in order to hire workers for scraps in another, destroy the environment, and bribe governments to pass legislation that favors their destructive ways. The result of this is a world system that abuses the working classes and the environment.
The Pope's solution is solidarity. We must encourage the values of cooperation, unity, trust, and fairness over the values of greed, gain, and the craving for profits at all costs. The very word "solidarity" is repeated frequently by Pope Benedict throughout the encyclical. Our current world econcomic system, the Pope argues, opposses solidarity by forcing us to relate to each other primarily as competitors. In other words, our current system is hostile to human nature and serves only to diminish it.
This is, however, more than just a call to each person to search their hearts and have more compassion for their fellows (though it is that too). Pope Benedict calls for a world authority with the power to regulate the global economy. The reason for this? Governments only have local jurisdiction, but the economy is world wide. A Local authority as no power over a world wide economy, so we must create an entity with global authority to regulate the world econcomy and restore rights to people and the earth.
I am not a Roman Catholic and my own theological beliefs are far removed from the Pope's, but I find his thoughts on globalization and the injustice of our current system well worth reading. His solution is debatable, but there is much insight into what is wrong with our system here. Of particular interest is the Pope's frequent assertion that we were made for cooperation and solidarity, not for competition and exploitation.
The Pope's new encyclical is a must read for those of us concerned with social justice and the unchecked power and danger of mutlinational corporations.
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