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Archbishop discusses Catholic globalization

Molly Madden | Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Catholic Church must find new ways to integrate social action in order to help build a better global society, Archbishop of Munich and Freising Reinhard Marx said at the Terrence R. Keeley Vatican Lecture Wednesday.

Marx, one of the most recognized thinkers in the German Catholic Church, delivered the annual speech to a large crowd including University President Fr. John Jenkins and President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh.

“One of the benefits of being a Catholic university is that we are part of the universal Church and often the universal Church comes to us,” Jenkins said in his opening remarks. “Bishop Marx will add to our thoughts about the conflicts of the modern world and the Church.”

Marx recently published a book titled “Das Kapital,” which he used as a framework for his talk about the value of Catholic social teaching and tradition in today’s globalized world.
“When I speak about social doctrine, it is necessary to see the whole, not just one part,” Marx said. “All parts of our doctrine are linked and they influence each other.”

Marx said the problem with social doctrine in today’s world involves conflicts with the deliverance of the message and the means in which it is communicated.

“We want to share an ideal with everyone and have found the way to speak in nominative sentences,” he said. “But the sentences must be compatible for all men of goodwill.”

Marx applied the Church’s social doctrine to the current economic crisis. He said he believes there is a distinct relationship between virtues and institutions and the two cannot be separated.

“We need to work within the system but the system must have the right organizations so that the virtues are underlined,” he said. “The financial crisis shows very clearly that there was a failure in both virtue and institution.”

Marx said he believes social doctrine can be used to help alleviate the crisis but it “is not possible to build a society based on this current image of man.”

Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about the new relationship between the market, state and society and the new implications this relationship has after the financial crisis. Marx thinks the crisis has provided the opportunity to pursue a new way of thinking in light of social teachings.

“We must now see that the whole is more than the sum of individuals, but good cannot be achieved without the state,” he said. “What is necessary is to ask the question of what it means to be living a good life in a good state.”

Marx believes in the power and application of the social teachings, but he said they cannot have global responsibility without political and institutional arrangements that would guarantee that guideline will be followed.

“We cannot just apply force to people because it’s not enough,” he said. “We must have a framework of the market and this is very dependent on civilization.”

Marx said there were many lessons learned in the aftermath of the financial crisis, but the most important lesson is that the global community must rethink capitalism and “organize the market, state and society on a global level; it is very important for the Church to find a way to be in the civil societies in countries across the world.”

Marx said he thinks the mission of the Church in the 21st century should be to overcome separations and play a more significant role in developing a global consciousness.
“We must find new ways of integrating our social action with other dialogues to find a common language,” he said.

Marx said the Church’s social doctrine would not be embraced by everyone but that solidarity within the global community is attainable.

“Faith is not a means of exclusion, but a means of integration,” he said.