Manifesto for the Economy of Life

Below is an excerpt from the São Paulo Statement on International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life (World Council of Churches, 2012). We would love to hear your thoughts on this manifesto. Is there anything you would add to the creed? Does it speak from (and to) the intersection of faith, economics and justice?  The 2008 global financial and economic crash increased poverty and unemployment among millions in the global North and worsened and deepened poverty, hunger and malnutrition among even larger numbers in the global South, already experiencing decades of poverty and deprivation caused by injustices in international financial and economic relations. A system of speculation, competition and inadequate regulation has failed to serve the people and instead has denied a decent standard of life to the majority of the world’s population. The situation is urgent. Critical theological reflection on the material and collective bases of life has been intrinsic to the call to be faithful disciples of Christ and has expressed itself through theological contemplative praxis that has sought transformative liberation from unjust socio-political, cultural and economic structures, thereby promoting the fullness of life for all creation. Modernity has, however, brought with it an economic model based on profit and self-interest disconnected from faith and ethics. This has led to the ideological justification of colonialism, the despair of...

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São Paulo Statement on the Economy of Life

In late September, 2012, economists, church leaders, activists, politicians and theologians gathered in  São Paulo, Brazil, to respond to and continue work around issues of economic, social and ecological justice. Together, these ecumenical leaders envisioned an alternative global financial and economic architecture, building on several seminal confessions, statements and call’s to action from the last decade. The São Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life is well-worth a read. In particular, I was inspired by the introductory creed on pages 3 and 4. The manifesto follows a format of rejection and affirmation, thus: We reject the explosion of monetisation and the commodification of all of life, an economy that is driven by debt and financialisation, the ideology of consumerism, increasing individualistic consumerism, an economy of over-consumption and greed, neoliberal capitalism which conditions us psychologically to desire more and more, and the economic abstraction of Homo Oeconomicus which constructs the human person as being essentially insatiable and selfish. We affirm a theology of grace, an economy of forgiveness, caring and justice, an economy of Manna which provides sufficiently for all and negates the idea of greed, the diversity and interconnectedness of life and interdependent relationships with the created order, an economy of sufficiency that promotes restraint, and that we are called to think not only of our own interests but also of the interests of others. This...

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The “cult of money” and ethics reform

Pope Francis  has received much airplay recently for his reverent and honest, relevant and intelligent reiteration of ordinary Catholic thought using language that people can understand – applying longstanding church teachings to contemporary issues. Speaking to a group of diplomats gathered at the Vatican on May 16, Pope Francis spoke unequivocally on what he terms the “cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.” Read more on Pope Francis’ challenge. Here is the full transcript of the speech. What then could an economic mindset that is not hinged entirely on consumption and disposal look like? What is an alternative ethics of...

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WallStBull

We Need to Rethink Financial System From Scratch, as at Bretton Woods

On September 26, 2008, French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said, “we must rethink the financial system from scratch, as at Bretton Woods.”  I must admit lab at the time I did not understand his reference to “Bretton Woods” and if you find yourself also in that same space it maybe good to familiarize yourself with what has been called the Bretton Woods system. The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states in the mid 20th century. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. Just over a week ago a surprising (to me) voice entered the the dialogue of rethinking our international financial systems. What was surprising was not that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican City) had something to say but how I found it to be a very useful/helpful reflection. I encourage you to consider listening to a short explanation of the paper or download the paper on the reform of the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority, released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Economic Reform...

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