The Economics of Laudato Si’
14 September 2015
Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ is primarily concerned with a range of environmental issues, particularly climate change. However, as the Pope emphasises, environmental issues cannot be separated from the promotion of social justice, the need to care for the poor and the operation of economic systems. As a result, a significant part of the encyclical draws on Catholic social teaching on economic affairs and the operation of markets.
The encyclical’s analysis and consideration of economic issues has been criticised in some quarters. Prominent attacks on the encyclical, and Pope Francis personally, are to be found in editions of The Australian and The Weekend Australian newspapers published shortly after the publication of the encyclical.
The editorial of The Weekend Australian on 27-28 June 2015 claimed that Pope Francis and his advisers “emerge as environmental populists and economic ideologues of a quasi-Marxist bent”, that his views “are not part of the church’s deposit of the faith and they are not tenets of faith and morals” and that “the flock is not obliged to follow the shepherd” in his attempt to “reposition the church so far to the green-left”.
The substance of the editorial is a personal attack on Pope Francis for taking the Catholic Church into new areas of social and economic teaching and departing from the teaching of his predecessors. These claims are part of an ongoing narrative being spread in sections of the media and in social commentary. Confronting the matters raised in the editorial is a means of setting the public record straight.
The ACCER’s response to the editorial in The Economics of Laudato Si’ - no surprises here falls into several sections: an outline of the nature and purpose of Catholic social teaching; a review of Catholic social teaching on economics and markets; an outline of what Laudato Si' says on economic matters; a response to the editorial's use of quotations from the encyclical; and a response to the various criticisms made in the editorial.
This paper demonstrates these kinds of criticisms of the economics of Laudato Si' are without foundation and that what Pope Francis has said on economic issues is sound and is perfectly consistent with earlier Catholic social teaching on economic issues, including the operation and regulation of markets. The criticisms of Pope Francis and the encyclical by The Weekend Australian are unjustified and grossly unfair.
Office for Employment Relations
In addition to the work undertaken by the ACCER the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has developed The Office for Employment Relations. The OER is mandated to provide ACBC agencies and other Church employers with the operational employment relations advice formerly provided by the ACCER. The OER and ACCER continue to work closely together to provide information on work and the employment relationship. The OER website is located a www.employmentrelations.catholic.org.au
National Employment Standards
The Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the final National Employment Standards which will become effective from 1 January 2010. A revised request has also been issued to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in relation to the Award Modernisation process providing guidance on how the NES and modern awards are to interact. Importantly, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission has been directed to establish an award for non managerial employees who are currently award free, but perform similar work to award covered employees. Click here for full details of the NES.