Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Scholars Look to Church in Economic Crisis

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Scholars Look to Church in Economic Crisis

Article excerpt

While there is no road map to solving Europe's economic crisis, the Catholic church--with its history of serving the poor--can help in the face of government austerity measures, longtime observers said.

"At the moment, if you gather three European economists, you have four options" of how to solve the crisis, said Jesuit Fr. Raul Gonzalez Fabre, professor of economics and ethics at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain.

However, he and other European observers said the Catholic church can help guide discussions so that a balance is achieved among government, charitable agencies and private enterprise.

While Europe's economic situation poses serious challenges that are expected to take years to resolve, observers such as British Jesuit Fr. Frank Turner say the church's steady hand in serving the poor and assisting the newly unemployed will help cement its role as a key adviser in the development of economic solutions aimed at the common good in the 17-nation euro zone.

It's not that the church offers specific answers. Turner, who works at the Jesuit European Social Centre in Brussels, pointed to Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth") as a basic framework for action. In broad terms, the document calls for a balance between global development and the common good.

Turner also cited a January commentary by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community that addressed the importance of developing "a highly competitive social market economy" in response to the growing financial crisis.

In "A European Community of Solidarity and Responsibility," the bishops called for "equal balancing of the print caplet of freedom and solidarity." In particular, they cite the need for binding "freedom of the market with the principle of justice and the commandment to love of neighbor."

Gonzalez told Catholic News Service that the economic crisis "may be the opportunity (for the church and governments) to work together in order to help the old and new poor survive the situation. …

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