“Is Christian Ethics a Changing Geometry? »

On November 25, 2022, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences published a document. mensuram bonam (1), for the first time, explicitly translates the operating principles of the Catholic faith into 24 exclusionary criteria for investors in financial markets.

At first glance, we note that certain categories are controversial both in form and substance, in addition to the fact that the authors of the document always justify their exclusions without clear reference to the main corpus. In form, given the hierarchy between the texts, how can one not see that the prohibition of nuclear weapons is based on the Holy Father’s simple message to the congregation and on mines and mineral resources? Cardinal Turkson’s equally simple message to seminar participants.

Arms trade and the death penalty

In fact, one can oppose the unlimited restriction of the arms trade Collection of Social Doctrine of the Churchcreates “The principle of sufficiency (principle) that a state can have only the means necessary for self-defense should be applied both by states that receive weapons and by states that produce and supply them.” (#508). In terms of armaments, the French Bishops’ Conference is thus content to defend the simple respect of international conventions (2).

Likewise, with regard to the death penalty, if the Church’s condemnation seems complete, its translation into the texts is not yet complete. the Bulk thus defines “The traditional teaching of the Church does not preclude recourse to the death penalty if the death penalty is the only practical way to effectively defend human life against an unjust aggressor.” (No. 405).

What about “Laudato si'”

Furthermore, the lack of CSR themes such as fossil fuel exclusion, support for renewable energies or disability integration is also surprising. Encyclical laudato si’ however, it defines “Technology based on highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser extent, gas – must be replaced gradually and without delay” (No. 165).

Likewise, Pope Francis said on June 14, 2019“There is an urgent need to develop policies (substitute) fossil fuels with renewable energy sources”. Finally, Bulk provides “Disabled people are full human subjects, bearers of rights and duties (and should) helping to participate in family and social life in all dimensions and at all accessible levels (their) opportunities » (No. 148).

Americans have other criteria

Finally, how can we not mention that the American bishops carried out a similar exercise in November 2021 (3) and if they also reached the 24 exclusion criteria, they are not the same… They do not exclude, they do not explicitly include investments in companies. or organizations directly or indirectly associated with the death penalty, animal abuse or experimentation, computer games and toys, corruption, violations of indigenous peoples’ rights, genetic manipulations (GMOs) or unfair trade practices linked to totalitarian regimes, even producing or selling dangerous chemical products or mineral raw materials and not promoting the diet of the most vulnerable people.

Is Christian ethics a shifting geometry? Will the USCCB consider the political weight of the 26 states of the federation that still use the death penalty, or the economic weight of certain sectors (agriculture, mining and metals, entertainment, fertilizers and pesticides, etc.)? We know Bernard de Mandeville and since the tale of the bees (1714) that “A flourishing state needs evil as much as hunger to compel us to eat”.

In vitro fertilization, human cloning…

It may also be noted that, on the contrary, the USCCB document expressly opposes in vitro fertilization, human cloning, non-availability of certain drugs or vaccines, human trafficking and forced labor, denial of gender identity, denial of marriage or traditional gender identity. sexuality, media that does not promote human dignity, opponents of CSR, non-inclusive financial institutions, non-practical impact investors and technology companies that do not promote human dignity. Does this mean that the Vatican considers these activities compatible with the Catholic faith?

This simple question shows how dangerous it is to enter the logic of exclusion: we know where to start, but we don’t know where to stop. Identifying socially responsible investments (SRI) as an intrinsic ethic, as well as fact Caritas in truth (n. 45), but this does not mean that it is an objective list of duties determined by society from the outside, and therefore a morality (4).

Engage before you exclude

Though mensuram bonam changes the USCCB’s criteria for distinction by calling for engagement and improvement first before exclusion, so it will be regretted that under the pretense “There is no technical solution to offer the church”, he does not take sides between three basic ethics, namely an ethics of principles that seeks to combat evil (externalize), an ethics of results that favors best practices (improve), and a virtues ethic that aims at the greatest social or environmental benefit. to affect (do). A priori, it leads only to the fulfillment of the latter telos man, that is, a happy life at his own expense and at the expense of others.

CSR specialists, to whom the author of these lines belongs, are well aware that their discipline is still a science in its infancy, like, for example, medicine in Molière’s time, but is this a reason to treat all pressing problems? the ills of society with bleeding, purging and enemas? Like Shakespeare, in Merchant of Venice, we would be inclined to interpret the law: a pound of flesh, so be it! but not a drop of blood!

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