PLENARY ACADEMY SOCIAL SCIENCES: PURSUING COMMON GOOD
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, a press conference was held to present the 14th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is to take place in the Vatican from 2 to 6 May on the theme: "Pursuing the common good: how solidarity and subsidiarity can work together".
Participating in the press conference were Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Margaret Archer of the University of Warwick, England; and Pierpaolo Donati of the University of Bologna, Italy.
The goal of the assembly, explains an English-language note released for the press conference, "is to give new meaning and application to the concept of common good in this age of globalisation, which in certain fields is leading to growing inequalities and social injustice, laceration and fragmentation of the social fabric, in short, to the destruction of common goods throughout the world".
"The main hypothesis on which scholars are called to exchange their views is that the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity can, unlike the compromises between socialism and liberalism, mobilise new social, economic and cultural forces of civil society which, within politically-shared fundamental values, can generate those common goods on which the future of humanity depends.
"The programme", the note adds, "envisages a careful inspection of the current processes of radical change in the light of the four fundamental principles of the Catholic social doctrine (dignity of the human person, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity) to understand how and in what measure these principles are effectively applied, and to suggest new solutions where they are misconstrued, misunderstood, disobeyed or distorted".
Explaining how these principles "are very often interpreted in ways that are very far from the meanings and intentions that attain to social doctrine," the note refers to the family. "The common good of the family is identified with its assets", it says, "family solidarity with sentiments of pure affection, subsidiarity with leaving each 'actor' to define the family as he/she likes".
"At the practical-operational level, some case studies on good practices will be presented", such as "new forms of solidary and subsidiary economy (the 'economy of communion' and the 'Food Bank'
; shared access (peer to peer) to information goods on communication networks (the Internet); the new 'Local Alliances for the Family' (born in Germany and spreading throughout Europe); subsidiary educational activities in developing countries; third sector organisations using the instrument of micro-credit for social, economic and human development".
The note concludes by underlining how "the fundamental challenge" facing the assembly is that "once we acknowledge that the great deficit of modernity, which is nevertheless responsible for many social conquests, has been and still is social solidarity (at all levels, from local to global), it is a matter of seeing whether and how this deficit can be overcome by a new way of intending and practising subsidiarity as a pro-active, promotional principle, not only as a defensive, protective one. In short, the challenge is for a new combination of subsidiarity and solidarity to become the key to activate those social circuits on which common goods depend, the key to turn globalisation into a 'civilisation of the common good'".
OP/COMMON GOOD/ACAD-SS VIS 080502 (550)