By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Cardinal Parolin situated the theme for this year’s Centesimus Annus conference within the context of Pope Francis’s appeal during the extraordinary moment of prayer on 27 March. “The Milestones of an Integral Ecology for a Human Economy”, he said, is a response to the Pope’s request on that occasion “to reset the course of our boat towards the Lord and towards others, by cooperating and building, recommitting ourselves and rediscovering our common belonging as brothers and sisters.”
Both integral ecology and human economy, Cardinal Parolin continued, are important concepts needed to change humanity’s course.
When ecology is integral, it remains true to the two Greek words "oikos" and "logos". Ecology is, therefore, a study or reflection on our common home. When viewed within the perspective of a polyhedron, the Cardinal said, integral ecology “can lead us to adopt a new vision of the world and to analyze the issues and challenges confronting humanity today.” The center of this new vision is the human person. This presupposes a “culture of care” rather than a “throwaway culture”.
Putting the person at the center acknowledges each individual’s right to “personal development (…) and the growth of a sense of solidarity within society at large and with generations yet to come.” To arrive there, “education in an integral ecology” is necessary because it involves “an authentic conversion leading to a change of mentality and outlook.”
Similarly, examining the meaning of the word from its Greek roots, "oikos" and "nomos", Cardinal Parolin noted it means “laws or rules for the home”. Human economy, too, must be focused on the human person within a culture of care, he said. Therefore, a human economical system must “improve — not destroy — our world.” The “fundamental importance of work is an element essential to a dignified human existence”, he said. Furthermore, everyone needs to have the possibility “to nurture the seeds that God has planted” in them.
The world of politics and business need to contribute their part to ensure that everyone’s gifts can be contributed in a society in which gainful employment is assured. In a global economy, international relations enter into the dynamic, calling both new ethics and new dynamics “aimed at strengthening multilateralism and cooperation between states”.
Thus, human economy, too when its vision is polyhedral puts the human person at the center, through a culture of care, and demands education, Cardinal Parolin stated. “It will be committed to the enhancement of the universal common good and to intra- and intergenerational solidarity.”