The activities of the University Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, for studies on the thought of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, begin today, Monday, 22 June. And they are starting with a reflection on the supreme value which also becomes a form of every virtue, that is, agape, caritas, an “extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace” (Caritas in Veritate, n. 1).
If the Church deals systematically with social and economic topics (as she has since Leo XXIII's Rerum Novarum), she does not do so because she possesses special economic skills but rather because she is an “expert in humanity”, as Paul VI liked to say. The Church is not afraid to add her own voice to the great human questions on the truth about man and his future, which also include the question about the economy. It is a matter of recognizing that the Church's social teaching is not “another moral theory alongside the many already available in literature, but a 'common grammar' for them all, since it is founded on a specific viewpoint: caring for the human good” (Tarcisio Bertone, L'etica del bene comune nella dottrina sociale della chiesa, 2008).
There is a crucial link between economics, ethics, politics, philosophy and religion. “On this subject the Church's social doctrine can make a specific contribution, since it is based on man's creation 'in the image of God' (Gen 1:27), a datum which gives rise to the inviolable dignity of the human person and the transcendent value of natural moral norms. When business ethics prescinds from these two pillars, it risks becoming subservient to existing economic and financial systems rather than correcting their dysfunctional aspects” (Caritas in Veritate, n. 45)).
Human dignity and natural ethical norms, in the light of faith and reason, are the two “beacons” which, in the social magisterium and, more generally, in the thought of Benedict XVI, illuminate the main route to take in order to operate correctly in today's complex world, offering trustworthy hope to men and women of today and avoiding the risk that “the salt... become tasteless or the light be kept hidden” (Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” Porta Fidei of the Supereme Pontiff Benedict XVI for the indiction of the Year of Faith).