Sunday, May 4, 2008

Globalizing the Common Good

Social Sciences Academy Considers Subsidiarity, Solidarity

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2008 ( ).- The Vatican is considering how the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity can work together in a globalized pursuit of the common good.

Today in the Vatican press office, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences presented its plenary session on "Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together." The meeting began today and continues through Tuesday.

Participating in the press conference were Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Margaret Archer of the University of Warwick, England; and Pierpaolo Donati of the University of Bologna, Italy.

The goal of the assembly, explained an English-language note released for the press conference, "is to give new meaning and application to the concept of common good in this age of globalization, which in certain fields is leading to growing inequalities and social injustice, laceration and fragmentation of the social fabric, in short, to the destruction of common goods throughout the world."

The note continued: "The main hypothesis on which scholars are called to exchange their views is that the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity can, unlike the compromises between socialism and liberalism, mobilize new social, economic and cultural forces of civil society which, within politically shared fundamental values, can generate those common goods on which the future of humanity depends."

4 principles

During the plenary session, participants will study current radical changes in light of four fundamental principles of Catholic social doctrine: the dignity of the human person, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity.

With this study, they seek "to understand how and in what measure these principles are effectively applied, and to suggest new solutions where they are misconstrued, misunderstood, disobeyed or distorted."

With this in mind, the pontifical academy plans to examine case studies where the interweaving of these principles has been successful.

The note mentions cases such as the "economy of communion" and the "Food Bank"; shared access to information goods on communication networks, specifically the Internet; subsidiary educational activities in developing countries; and third-sector organizations using the instrument of microcredit for social, economic and human development.

The note concluded by underlining how "the fundamental challenge" facing the assembly is that "once we acknowledge that the great deficit of modernity, which is nevertheless responsible for many social conquests, has been and still is social solidarity -- at all levels, from local to global -- it is a matter of seeing whether and how this deficit can be overcome by a new way of intending and practicing subsidiarity as a proactive, promotional principle, not only as a defensive, protective one."

"In short," the pontifical academy said, "the challenge is for a new combination of subsidiarity and solidarity to become the key to activate those social circuits on which common goods depend, the key to turn globalization into a 'civilization of the common good.'"

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