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Good Businesses

A newly published document by the Church lines up and sorts out the principles which bind ethics, economy, finance and production organisation

Finance and business. And the correct management of the latter. The culture of making for giving, not accumulating. These complex themes develop in step with that of the businesses, entrepreneurs and managers in relation to the social responsibility of manufacturers.  The same applies to economic ethics and social ethics.

Reading the newly published “Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones. Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system”, collectively written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, can shed light on these matters.

The first lines introduce the topics and the intentions by drawing attention to the need for “a clear ethical foundation that assures a well-being realized through the quality of human relationships rather than merely through economic mechanisms that by themselves cannot attain it” in economics and finance. It goes on to state that “a synthesis of technical knowledge and human wisdom is essential. Without such a synthesis, every human activity tends to deteriorate.” Ethics and economy, hand in hand. It is not just about proper accounting.

The document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith tackles the topic and then sets the foundations for a reasoning that correlates ethics and human activities before moving onto “Some Clarifications in Today’s Context” which analyse economics, manufacturing, finance and business in greater detail. This part makes reference to the need for a “healthy market system” in which can ethics and human dignity can thrive. This is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is referring to when by writing: “Experience and evidence over the last decades has demonstrated, on the one hand, how naive is the belief in a presumed self-sufficiency of the markets, independent of any ethics, and on the other hand, the compelling necessity of an appropriate regulation that at the same time unites the freedom and protection of every person and operates to create healthy and proper interactions, especially with regards to the more vulnerable”. Delicate matters, like that of intermediation, banks and transparency, are also dealt with. The focus then turns to companies, stating that “every business creates an important network of relations and in its unique way represents a true intermediate social body with a proper culture and practices. Such culture and practices, while determining the internal organization of the enterprise, influence also the social fabric in which it operates.”

After having explored other issues, such as manufacturing techniques, distribution of profits and savings management, the document reaches a conclusion which is far from pessimistic: “In front of the massiveness and pervasiveness of today’s economic-financial systems, we could be tempted to abandon ourselves to cynicism, and to think that with our poor forces we can do very little.  In reality, every one of us can do so much, especially if one does not remain alone.”

“Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones” is only apparently a simple read. It is actually an important foundation for those operating in modern production systems. Despite its small size, “Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones” is a book that should prominently feature on all corporate desks.

Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones. Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2018