Politics and society should rethink their value systems in order to overcome the economic crisis
The current economic and financial crisis reveals a spiritual crisis and a distorted hierarchy of values. This is the analysis that Bishop van Luyn, President of COMECE, shared with the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament on the occasion of the annual meeting of the leaders of the monotheistic religions with the heads of the EU institutions.
At the invitation of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, around twenty senior figures from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions from twelve Members States as well as from Russia met in the Berlaymont in Brussels to discuss the economic and financial crisis and making an ethical contribution towards European and global economic governance.
Bishop Adrianus Van Luyn emphasised that the lack of responsibility which had led to the economic crisis was attributable not only to bankers and brokers, but also to those political leaders who promised more than they really wanted to deliver over recent years; one example of this lack of commitment concerns the Millennium development goals.
Bishop Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and COMECE Vice President, pointed out the risk of loss of confidence in the free market economy, especially from the Members States in central and eastern Europe where there were many who placed a great deal of hope in this model over the past 20 years.
Bishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, called for an appropriate ethical and juridical framework for the effective operation of the economy and the realisation of its function in society. A focus on the weakest in society is an essential dimension in planning for renewed growth. The Bishop warned that “Without targeting policies at enhancing the talents of the vulnerable, the marginalised will emerge at the end of a recession even more marginalised and society will be all the more fragile.”
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of Prague, called for responsible education aiming at the common good, which should be directed at every level: financial operators, families, companies, public authorities, civil society. This education in responsibility should be based on the solid principles of Catholic social teaching: the universality of common good, the universal destination of goods and the priority of labour over capital.
Both the President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso, and the President of the European Parliament, Mr Pöttering, welcomed this encounter and the wide-ranging exchange of thoughts. They recognised that the European Union is not based on a capitalist model, which implies a materialistic basis, but rather on the model of the social market economy, which puts the human being at its heart. They also acknowledged the vital importance of the dialogue of the EU with Religions, which depended on the personal goodwill of the EU leaders over the last 5 years but which will become legally binding when the Lisbon Treaty come into force, in Article 17.