Pope Benedict XVI called for new ways of doing business, in keeping with the dignity of workers and their families, during an Oct. 15 address to promoters of Catholic social doctrine.
“Family and work are privileged places for the construction of the vocation of man, collaborating in the creative work of God today,” he told the “Fondazione Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice,” a Vatican-based lay organization that spreads the Church's social teaching around the world.
Its members met in Rome for a two-day conference on the relationship between family and business.
In his speech to the foundation, the Pope recalled how the Second Vatican Council “spoke of the family in terms of the domestic church, an ‘untouchable sanctuary’ where the person matures in affection, solidarity and spirituality.”
“The economy with its laws must always consider the interests and the protection of this primary cell of society,” the Pope noted.
His comments coincide with important anniversaries in the history of Catholic social teaching. Pope Leo XIII published the first modern encyclical on the topic, “Rerum Novarum,” 120 years ago in 1891.
Meanwhile, 2011 also marks 30 years since Blessed John Paul II’s family-centered apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio,” and two decades since he addressed economic questions in the encyclical “Centessimus Annus”
Pope Benedict said that although “great changes have taken place in the world” since the days of Leo XIII, the Church “always promotes the human person and the family, in their context in life, even in business.”
He stressed the economy's need for good families, observing that “it is primarily in the family that we learn the right attitude for living in society,” including the “world of work, economics, business.”
In these fields, he said, values from family life help people to be “led by charity, the logic of generosity, solidarity and responsibility for one another.”
Pope Benedict recognized that the present economic crisis has hit families hard. He highlighted his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” as a guide to building a more humane society and economy, based on “a new harmonious synthesis between family and work.”
“It is not the task of the Church to define the ways to tackle the crisis,” the Pope acknowledged.
But Christians, formed by the Church's teaching, have a duty “to denounce evil, to testify and to keep alive the values that underpin human dignity and to promote those forms of solidarity that promote the common good,” helping humanity become “more and more the family of God.”