There is a certain interplay between those who manipulate and cheat society, and those who, while claiming to be detached and impartial critics, live off that system and its benefits. There is a sad hypocrisy when the impunity of crime, the use of institutions for personal or corporate gain, and other evils apparently impossible to eradicate, are accompanied by a relentless criticism of everything, a constant sowing of suspicion that results in distrust and confusion.
This quote from Fratelli Tutti 75 really brings to the fore front for me the CST Principle of Universal destination of goods in that what we have for our use isn’t meant for only our use or private use only. It isn’t a right, rather a privilege. As a privilege I see it as a responsibility to ensure to the best of our ability (capacity) that all (including all creation) are cared for in the best/appropriate manner that will benefit them as well as the common good.
I see the quote as a fit with the CST Principle in that we have been benefited by the systems and institutions for personal and corporate gain. Yet, we still have such disparities that have only been raised in our consciousness due to COVID 19, such as unequal access to technology, food, healthcare and racial inequity. With these disparities, I personally struggle and our congregation is acknowledging the struggle of how we are in solidarity with the poor and have a preferential option for the poor when we are not living as they are due to our privileges the system has afforded to us.
With the goods at our disposal how do we use them to no longer perpetuate the Neoclassical system? This is the struggle I am working through, trying to undo the thinking I have been trained in and our economic system operates under most of the time. There is a caste system of sorts in that there are people that benefit from the work of their staff, mostly the higher executives of companies. It is also within our congregation staffing. The department directors usually have a higher level of pay, due to their training, yet the staff they supervise are the ones whose hands are making it happen for the rest of us (food service, laundry). The director may not always be the one working at the lowest level.
The principle of solidarity, I can see being worked on in the current economic systems through the engagement with the respective companies regarding how they are accountable for their sourcing and treatment of employees. Yet, the growing edge for our congregation is the step to more engagement with the Economy of Francesco, seeing and acting in a different lens. How to be more concrete and explicit in our investing and the networks in which we participate.
This is also calling us into the principle of reciprocity and gratuitousness. We have been functioning in a very transactional way for the most part, yet in our non stock market investments we currently have, such as Partners for the Common Good, this is very relational, based on how grateful we are that we are involved, they have the connections to make these investments happen. These investments are in line with our values and we see our participation as a gift.
My congregation benefits from this system because of the stock market. Yet, our values, Catholic perspective, taken to a new level by Fratelli Tutti, we are asking what is ours to do regarding the disparities? How do we employ the values in our investing, taking what we have earned in the stock market to assist those in need? Philanthropy is one method, we are dipping into ESG more fully as well as Impact Investing, and private equity.
We hope this allows us to further the movement towards a more sustainable world, in all of the different ecologies, as was discussed in our readings. All of the ecologies are related as was shared in the powerpoint slides.