Vatican Roundup

Social apathy and economic focus are consequences of financial crisis, says Cardinal

The global financial crisis has driven a loss of meaning and social apathy, causing people to turn away from the common good in favour of a minimalist anthropology pointed towards economic function, according to the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The cardinal was speaking at a conference on the theme of ‘Educating today and tomorrow’, organised by the Mission of the Holy See permanent observer at UNESCO with the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The cardinal mapped out the history of the educational service offered by the Church since its origins, emphasising that the Church’s pedagogy is based on biblical anthropology in which the relationship of love and reciprocity between man and God appears from Genesis onwards.

Pointing out the importance of this theme in the Second Vatican Council, which proposed a full and complete education aimed at laying the foundations for an inclusive and peaceful society open to dialogue, he criticised current tendencies towards the fragmentation of knowledge and the worrying lack of communication between different disciplines.

Investment in education for the young, he said, is “a condition for the progressive development of peoples”, especially for those trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, disease and ignorance.


Workers’ rights threatened by worldwide black markets

The black market threatens workers’ rights, security and protection worldwide, according to the head of Rome’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Arguing at the U.N. International Labour Conference that more must be done to strengthen minimum wages, safety standards and maternity benefits, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi stressed the ongoing need to eradicate child labour, which remains “widespread in some regions”. While the number of child workers worldwide has decreased from 246 million to 168 million over the last five years, he said more effort is needed to tackle the issue, especially given how 22,000 boys and girls die each year in workplace accidents.

A host of legal and ethical questions relate to the black market, the archbishop said, not least in connection to “extremely low” income and living standards and “seriously distressing” working conditions. People work in the black market or ‘informal economy’, he added, less through choice than because of a lack of real opportunities elsewhere.

Urging the International Labour Organisation to work towards fostering a gradual transition from black markets to formal economies, he said economic progress should be measured by “a series of indicators linked to social protections systems, including access to quality services, education, decent work, adequate, safe and nutritious food, adequate housing, personal safety and basic income security”.


Church agencies must keep Christ at heart – Pope

The Church’s mission-oriented agencies must guard against acting like nongovernmental organizations, empty of Christ's presence, Pope Francis has said.

“Please, guard against falling into the temptation of becoming an NGO, a distribution office for subsidies, small or large. Money can help, but it can also be the ruin of the mission,” the Holy Father pleaded at an audience on June 5 with members of the pontifical mission societies. These agencies support the Church in developing countries, as well as helping with the formation of seminarians, priests and religious in pontifical colleges.

Reminding the societies that their work belongs to Jesus, he urged them not to remove Christ from their many projects, warning that “when functionalism becomes central or takes up a lot of space, as if it were the most important thing, it will lead to ruin; because the first way to die is to take for granted the 'sources,' that is he who moves the mission”.

“A Church that reduces itself to the efficiency of a ‘party apparatus’ is already dead”, he said, adding that the Church’s priority is its evangelising mission, and that true renewal in the Church comes from the “intensity and efficacy” of its evangelisation.