Connecting Economics to Theology

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Economics claims to be an independent empirical social science but empirical evidence of the last century challenges this claim. By contrast Caritas in Veritate contains a set of linkages that demonstrate that economics is related to morals, anthropology and theology. Economics is practiced in a cultural setting with a moral dimension related to the human person, which is ultimately grounded in the nature of God. Pope Benedict has focused on love and gift as human qualities reflecting the Divine nature. The anthropology that proceeds from this is a development of Pope John Paul II’s emphasis on human dignity and freedom. It suggests moral principles that can guide culture, social institutions and hence economic action. Pope Benedict uses his reflections on the social order to comment on the problems of development for less developed peoples, but his analysis also completes one theme of the social encyclicals. Whereas Pope Leo XIII concentrated on economic and political fundamentals such as property and political organization, subsequent contributions turned attention more towards the human actor in relationship to God. Pope John Paul II made this explicit by turning attention to anthropology. Pope Benedict has connected these and completed the vision initiated by his immediate predecessor. He has described more completely the grounding of anthropology on the family, culture and ultimately the Most Blessed Trinity. The encyclical can be read as an invitation to a broader methodology for economics, one that is better conformed to actual market actors and that has the capacity to overcome some of the contentious aspects of the current discipline. The groundwork has been established by thinkers including Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas and some of its elements are evident in the economic organisation of many non-modern cultures.
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Archival date: 2016-10-06
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