Competent and responsible authorities, the text read, have the duty "to develop new forms of economy and of finance, with rules and regulations directed towards the enlargement of the common good and respect for human dignity along the lines indicated by the social teachings of the Church."
The text flagged erroneous and misguided approaches to the economic and financial markets such as consumerism, materialism, and an over-emphasis on profit, citing them as mentalities which endanger the common good and increase inequalities throughout the world.
"Our contemporary age has shown itself to have a limited vision of the human person, as the person is understood individualistically and predominantly as a consumer, whose profit consists above all in the optimization of his or her monetary income. The human person, however, actually possesses a uniquely relational nature and has a sense for the perennial search for gains and well-being that may be more comprehensive, and not reducible either to a logic of consumption or to the economic aspects of life."
"No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor," the text said, stressing that a legitimate economic system "thrives not merely through the quantitative development of exchange but rather by its capacity to promote the development of the entire person and of every person."
On this basis, the document urged that universities and business schools provide as a foundation an education by which students will "understand economics and finance in the light of a vision of the totality of the human person", avoiding "a reductionism that sees only some dimensions of the person."
Well-being has to be measured by more than just Gross Domestic Product but must also take into account safety and security and "the quality of human relationships and of work. Profit should be pursued but not 'at any cost', nor as a totalizing objective for economic action."
Profit and solidarity "are no longer antagonists," the document said. However, "where egoism and vested interests prevail, it is difficult for the human person to to grasp the fruitful interchange between profit and gift, as sin tends to tarnish and rupture this relationship."
"It is impossible to ignore the fact that the financial industry, because of its pervasiveness … is a place where selfishness and the abuse of power have an enormous potential to harm the community."
The documented lamented that "Capital annuity can trap and supplant the income from work, which is often confined to the margins of the principal interests of the economic system. Consequently, work itself, together with its dignity, is increasingly at risk of losing its value as a 'good' for the human person and becoming merely a means of exchange within asymmetrical social relations."
It pointed out an inversion between means and ends, in which work has become an instrument, and money an end.
Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones said that credit has an "irreplaceable social function," but that "applying excessively high interest rates, really beyond the range of the borrowers of funds, represents a transaction not only ethically illegitimate, but also harmful to the health of the economic system. As always, such practices, along with usurious activities, have been recognized by human conscience as iniquitous and by the economic system as contrary to its good functioning."
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Instead, financial activities are called to serve the real economy, "to create value with morally licit means, and to favour a dispersion of capital for the purpose of producing a principled circulation of wealth."
"What is morally unacceptable is not simply to profit, but rather to avail oneself of an inequality for one's own advantage, in order to create enormous profits that are damaging to others; or to exploit one's dominant position in order to profit by unjustly disadvantaging others, or to make oneself rich through harming and disrupting the collective common good."
The text then highlights the need for greater communion, collaboration, and solidarity in the market, and offers suggestions for ways in which these can be implemented.
In a healthy market "it is easier to respect and promote the dignity of the human person and the common good," the Vatican offices wrote.
The experience of recent decades has demonstrated the need for both ethics and regulation, the document states.
With an increased globalization of financial markets, the system "requires a stable, clear and effective coordination among various national regulatory authorities," allowing them to share binding decisions when necessary, especially when it comes to threats against the common good.