Justice in the Global Economy: Building sustainable and inclusive communities

Issue 1812

13 December 2018

In June 2016, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, sent a document to his fellow Jesuits proposing a greater commitment to the cause of global economic justice in order to better serve our brothers and sisters victimized by unjust economic and social structures.[1]

The document was inspired by Pope Francis’ eloquent and critical appeals – in speeches, homilies, and other writings – for us to address unjust economic systems. “He insisted that we identify the cruel and unjust forces of a mercantile economy that leave so many people behind and deprived of basic necessities.”

To this end, a group of economists, theologians, Jesuits and lay experts from all over the world, summoned by the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology and the Secretariat for Higher Education, met at the General Curia of the Society of Jesus and drafted a document titled, “Justice in the Global Economy: Building sustainable and inclusive communities.”[2]

The purpose of that document was not to treat every important question exhaustively, but rather to serve as a basis for further dialogue, research and concrete action for advocacy. Even at the level of individual Jesuits, communities and local institutions, care must be taken so that these topics are not overlooked because we mistakenly believe they are beyond our power to change since, individually and collectively, we seem so small and insignificant; that is, we deem ourselves too small and too weak to confront such large-scale problems. “We must remind ourselves that true progress is possible with a united and persistent effort to change habits, institutions and structures.”[3]

Pope Francis has said on many occasions that the human race finds itself at a critical crossroads. The possibility of moving forward is given by the fact that increases in access to education at all levels, better healthcare assistance, more advanced technology, and faster communications systems over the last decades have made it possible for many to reach a significantly higher level of well-being (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 52). At the same time, the pope has tirelessly insisted that too many people barely get by. Therefore, the global human community finds itself at a turning point: Will the economic gains benefit all, or will they be enjoyed exclusively by a privileged minority? The pope’s diagnosis leads us to pass severe judgment on the road we are traveling: large swaths of people share no part in the higher standard of living possible today.

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