For a New Humanism of the Economy

AuthorDaniele Ciravegna
PositionUniversity of Turin, Italy
The EuroAtlantic Union Review, Vol. 1 No. 1/2014
For a New Humanism in the Economy
Daniele Ciravegna*
Abstract. The Social Doctrine of the Church (SDC) can contribute to define a “new humanism
in the economy”, since the economy needs ethics in order to function correctly. SDC identifies
four permanent principles: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and
solidarity, which can be summarized in the “integral human development and the central role
of the person”. By convention, the SDC begins with Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Letter “Rerum
Novarum” (1891) and its construction has happened through the addition of arguments, and the
deepening into the discussion of these arguments, made by the pontifical encyclicals from Pius XI
until Bededict XVI, passing through the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution Gaudium
et Spes and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The development of this
doctrine hasn’t been linear; rather, on some issues, it has shown second thoughts and changes of
direction. The summary of the analysis of the Social Doctrine of the Church is that it focuses
very much on the current problems of human society. Among these ones, this paper considers in
particular the matter of labour and man as the subject of work. Human work has an ethical value
of its own, which clearly and directly remains linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a
person, a conscious and free subject, that is to say a subject that decides about himself. The essential
nature of work stems from a subjective concept of it.
Keywords: Social Doctrine of the Church; Ethics in the Economy; Active Labour Market and
Manpower Policies.
Human kind is always “in transition”, rst and foremost from a cultural point
of view, that is in terms of all those behaviours stemming from the evolution
of its culture. In time, this “transition” has experienced phases of very low
* University of Turin, Italy
F      
speed – indeed with almost no speed, almost still – in other phases, it acquired
high speed, enough to suggest the word “revolution”. Without a doubt, today
the speed at which human cultures and behaviours change has reached high
values; and both cultures and behaviours tend to converge, which is easily
explained: dierent cultures are the consequence of communication barriers
between communities (the separation of languages which created Babel’s
confusion). e spreading of world-wide communication possibilities cannot
but lead to the dierent cultures and “languages” converging.
However, as linguistic confusion brought about cultural dierences, cultural
convergence is now bringing about confusion of the spirits. Today, because
knowledge, relationships and exchanges are world-wide, some milestones
(which move so slowly they appear to be carved in stone) tend to become
obsolete, and this generates confusion and fear in all areas: moral, religious,
ethical, social, economic… New paradigms are necessary because rapid
transformations highlight how negative the encrustations are, much more than
slower transformations do. ey require that these encrustations be removed;
but eliminating the old and creating the new generates uncertainty and fear.
is paper shows that a useful reference framework can be found in the Social
Doctrine of the Church and how this can contribute to the denition of a “new
humanism in the economy”. e Social Doctrine of the Church is here analyzed
as the dynamic process of a corpus of doctrines of a Church which “journeys
along the roads of history together with all of humanity” (Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004, § 18). is corpus of doctrines is evolving
– as Pope Paul VI wrote in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975,
§ 2 – so as to “to make the Church of the twentieth century ever better tted
for proclaiming the Gospel to the people of the twentieth century”.
By convention, the Church’s Social Doctrine begins with Pope Leo XIII’s
Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum (1891), but of course its rst and founding
pillar is Jesus Christ, his words and his actions as told by the Gospels. In addition
to the foundations transmitted by the apostles and by the Church fathers,
besides councils, papal teachings (exhortations, letters, messages, speeches,
etc.), ecclesial documents, as well as documents from congregations and
pontical councils – the gradual elaboration of the Church’s Social Doctrine
is based on the encyclical letters, messages and documents indicated in Table
1 For a more complete analysis, refer to Ciravegna (2012).

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