Friday, March 02, 2007

The Levada interview

In the Tablet, Robert Mickens gives a summary of an interview William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave recently to a Belgian publication, Mondiaal Neuws (which also carries a summary). Worth reading! I hope the interview itself appears online in English. Well, globalization is not the only thing he talks about, but at least the way it's presented here, I'm not entirely comfortable with his pooh-poohing of economists :) (Heck I just started Tim Hartford's Undercover Economist!):
In the United States, neoliberalism was fiercely debated on the occasion of the signing of NAFTA. The unions opposed that free trade treaty because they feared the consequences of a globalized competition for the workers and the circumstances and conditions in which they work. My sympathy in that debate is clearly with the unions. We cannot just leave the issue of a global economy to a few people with economic degrees. Economics is far too soft a science for that. Economists come along with new theories every so often, without a guarantee for the people that they will serve them better. That is why Catholic teaching says that we cannot blindly jump into this neoliberal approach of the globalizing economy.

You just cannot say that in the end everything will be all right, when your theory in its contemporary practice costs the lives of millions of human beings. That is not what we understand to be a successful economy and it does not stand the test of gospel values. Our mission is: love your neighbor. But how do you do that when almost every African country is suffering from the most acute poverty? How do we practise charity in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands are dying? Those are the challenges that really matter in the world today".
Not sure that Darfur and globalization are entirely opposed, but I will wait to read his words in context. It also depends on exactly what "globalization" means here.

And while talking about fundamentalism,
The role of the Church in that dialogue between an individual and his or her God, says the Cardinal, is not to be the first interlocutor, but the role is indispensable. "We believe that the apostles and their successors received the mission to interpret revelation in new circumstances and in the light of new challenges. That creates a living tradition that is much larger than the simple and strict passing of existing answers, insights and convictions from one generation to another.

But at the end of the day there has to be an instance that can decide whether a specific lifestyle is coherent with the principles and values of our faith, that can judge whether our actions are in accordance with the commandment to love your neighbor. The mission of the Church is not to prohibit people from thinking, investigate different hypotheses, or collect knowledge. Its mission is to give those processes orientation".
Can't argue there! :)

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