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ERIC Number: EJ864474
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1195-4353
Ethics and Economics: An Introduction to a Christian Document Now Little Remembered
Doughty, Howard A.
College Quarterly, v12 n1 Win 2009
In the early 1980s, it was not sub-prime mortgages and toxic assets, bank failures and factory closures that crowded the pages of the business section of the daily newspapers. It was something called "stagflation," a noxious combination of inflationary pressures on currency and stagnating levels of production. Still, the effects were roughly similar, and the growth of unemployment was almost identical. Politicians called upon both academic economists and the leaders of business and industry to come up with a plan to solve the crisis, just as leaders are doing today. In the midst of the emergency, however, something else happened. The bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada came out with a bold document. Excise the references to God, Jesus and the Gospels and one would find a rather radical economic manifesto. Keep them, and one will read a test of faith, hope and charity. The Bishops proposed that the interests of labour be put ahead of the interests of capital, that the dignity of work supersede the quest for technology, that economic justice be recognized as the overarching social goal and that the "preferential option" be for "the poor, the afflicted and the oppressed" be exercised in all actions. In short, these high-ranking members of the largest religious denomination in Canada spoke eloquently about making the economy about morality and not money. In time, prosperity of a sort returned. Whether the recovery was a predictable consequence of the business cycle or won on the backs of the poor, the working and the middle classes through draconian cut-backs in social services and other efficiencies is a matter of debate. What is clear, however, is that the counsel of the clergy was totally ignored. The author does not reclaim this document and disseminate it as a cure-all. In some ways, he thinks its diagnosis and recommended therapies are utterly naive. He also does not endorse its religious premises. However, he thinks that the Bishops were on to something important, and he thinks teachers would do themselves and their students no permanent harm if they were to consider the ethical context for whatever they teach since, in one way or another, the various global tensions--ecological, ideological and economic--cannot forever be ignored and, as teachers, they surely have some responsibility to raise the truly important questions. In this article, the author presents the document and his views.
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. 1750 Finch Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario M2J 2X5, Canada. Tel: 416-491-5050; Fax: 905-479-4561; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada