(Vatican Radio) The Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation on Wednesday announced the three winners of the third edition of the "Society and Economy" award.
The International "Society and Economy" Award went to Markus Vogt for his work Prinzip Nachhaltigkeit. Ein Entwurf aus theologisch-ethischer Perspektive.
Two new awards were given to journalists, to show the Foundation’s recognition of the importance of journalists in disseminating the Church’s social doctrine.
The first of the two journalists is French Father Dominique Greiner whose prize-winning blog "La doctrine social sur le fil", is published on the "La Croix" website. German radio host Burkhard Schäfers is the second winner, for his radio show "Oswald von Nell-Breuning - Was von der katholischen Soziallehre geblieben ist".
The announcement was made at a press conference featuring Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising, and Dr. Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, President of the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation.
The full text of their interventions are below
Intervention by Cardinal Reinhard Marx
As chairman of the jury of the International "Society and Economy" award of the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation, I am happy to communicate at this press conference the names of the three winners of the third edition of the award.
Among more than 57 works submitted from 12 countries and 5 continents and written in 6 different languages, it is my special pleasure to announce that the jury this time, has chosen a German text as winner of the prestigious International Award:
- Markus Vogt, Prinzip Nachhaltigkeit. Ein Entwurf aus theologisch-ethischer Perspektive, Monaco, oekom in 2013.
This third edition of the International Award also includes two new prizes for journalists. These two awards show the Foundation’s recognition of the importance of journalists in disseminating the Church’s social doctrine. The jury chose the following two from among the nominations from seven countries:
- The first of the two journalists is French Father Dominique Greiner whose prize-winning blog "La doctrine social sur le fil", is published on the "La Croix" website.
- Burkhard Schäfers the second prize winner is German, and received the award for his radio show "Oswald von Nell-Breuning - Was von der katholischen Soziallehre geblieben ist".
Now a few words about the winners. Markus Vogt, born in 1962 in Freiburg, is married with 3 children. After studying theology and philosophy in Munich and Jerusalem, he worked for some years as an ecology expert for the German government. Then from 1998 to 2007 he was professor of Christian Social Ethics at the Salesian philosophical-theological University in Benediktbeuern. Since 2007 he has been professor of Christian Social Ethics at the University of Munich.
Vogt has been studying sustainability for more than 20 years and can be considered one of the leading experts on this subject, which is also the focus of Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudato si. His book contains, so to speak, the range of Professor Vogt’s research to date. It was first published in 2009 with a third edition in 2013. This circumstance, quite exceptional for a book on the social doctrine of the Church,
demonstrates the importance of the text.
The principle of sustainability is no stranger to traditional economics. Throughout the centuries there have been principles that take into account the consequences of human action on the environment, for example by regulating the use of woods and forests. Modern technologies however have increased our possibilities and therefore the consequences of our actions on the world with the result that today’s problems have a much broader range requiring a global rethink.
Markus Vogt suggests we reconsider the connections between the three essential interdependent facets of human life: the economy, ecology and the social dimension. In the long run, the economy will not flourish without a healthy environment and without resolving the problem of poverty. But this is equally true for the two other dimensions: it will be impossible to safeguard the environment without a functioning economy and without offering everyone the opportunity to develop their gifts while the problem of poverty cannot be tackled with a weak economy and without proper care of the environment.
According to Vogt an example of a society where ecology, economy and social affairs were well coordinated was the Old Testament Jewish society. This was a society where men, respecting certain rules concerning the environment and the poor (for instance the sabbatical year in which the fields were kept fallow and debts were forgiven), were able to extract even from poor soil enough food to avoid famines which recurred elsewhere over several centuries.
We cannot resolve unaided the enormous problems facing today’s world. Vogt rejects the view that would make ecology a new doctrine of salvation. The person, not the environment, is at centre of the Church’s social doctrine and the environment becomes crucial depending on the person’s needs. What is required therefore is a discerning process capable of spelling out the connections between the various issues. Vogt’s book addresses the issue of sustainability from different ethical, theological, scientific, sociological and even political perspectives. The challenge here is to find new ways of thinking which also for example shoulder responsibility for future generations (the "solidarity" principle) that considers nature as creation, that is a gift, and not merely as the embodiment of resources to be used for industrial production.
Vogt does not simply present a solution which has dropped from on high. It is true that politics play a key role in addressing the ecological issue and yet the competences of international institutions must also be strengthened. At the same time, it is not entirely a political problem. Indeed, Vogt underlines the importance of the subsidiarity principle, pointing out that many steps must be taken at local level by the intermediary bodies that form society.
What is the role of the Church in the search for sustainability? Vogt suggests that it accepts sustainability as one of the fundamental principles of its social doctrine alongside personality, solidarity and subsidiarity. In fact, he considers sustainability a modern-day development of the traditional principle of the common good.
To sum up: reading Vogt’s book is an enriching experience. He does not wish to endorse a unilateral way of thinking, but knows how to take even-handed and unbiased positions in the face of radical attitudes. Nonetheless, he also indicates some concrete ways to improve our world.
The first of the two award winning journalists is Father Dominique Greiner. Born in 1963 in Toul (Meurthe et Moselle). Father Greiner studied economics and theology and teaches moral, social and political theology at the Theological Faculties of the Catholic Institute of Lille and Paris. He is a member of the Assumptionist Order (Augustinians of the Assumption) and editor-in-chief of the "La Croix" newspaper.
Fr. Dominique Greiner’s award-winning blog "La doctrine sociale sur le fil" was started in 2013 and its speciality is the Church’s social doctrine. It includes more than one hundred articles published in "La Croix" in recent years. The blog articles can be subdivided into six main areas: 1) Ecology and ways of life; 2) The poor and migrants; 3) Economics, market, enterprise and employment; 4) Politics and the common good; 5) War, peace, terrorism and 6) Miscellaneous. The blog uses the Internet to offer those wishing to widen their interest in the Church’s social doctrine, a rich and invaluable tool vis-à-vis “a more just, more fraternal and more supportive society”.
The second award-winning journalist is Burkhard Schäfers who studied political science, communication sciences and European ethnology in Freiburg and Munich. Today he works in Munich as a journalist for public radio (Deutschlandfunk and DeutschlandradioKultur), for various newspapers and some online media. He is director of the Institutzur Förderung publizistischen Nachwuchses (Institute for the advancement of new generations of publicists).
The 15-minute award-winning radio show shows the qualities of Oswald von Nell-Breuning (1890-1991), one of the major protagonists of the Church’s twentieth century social doctrine. Von Nell-Breuning was one of the main authors of Pius XI’s 1931 Quadragesimo Anno. During his long life, he recognised the need to start from facts rather than from rules and regulations, in order to understand the social reality. During Schäfers’s broadcast, several interviewees illustrate the principles of subsidiarity, personality and solidarity. The contribution concludes with some reflections on the relevance of the Church’s social doctrine in today’s Germany.
Intervention by Dr. Domingo Sugranyes Bickel
The annual CAPP international conference will be held at the Vatican on May 18-20, 2017 on the following subject:
CONSTRUCTIVE ALTERNATIVES IN AN ERA OF GLOBAL TURMOIL
Job Creation and Human Integrity in the Digital Space – Incentives for Solidarity and Civic Virtue
The conference will attract around 250 professionals, business persons, workers’ representatives, politicians, academics and specialists in Catholic Social Teaching. The conference receives reports from several regional meetings and international expert consultations, as well as reports from its local chapters and members in 19 countries.
During the last 24 months, the Foundation’s work focused on:
- Business Initiative in the Fight against Poverty, with contributions presented at its May 2016 international conference at the Vatican and at the CAPP-USA/Fordham University conference held in New York City in September, 2016.
- A Digital Economy at the Service of the Common Good, with a special focus on the future of work (CAPP Italian conference, held at the headquarters of the ‘La Civiltà Cattolica’ review in November, 2016) and the cultural, organizational and ethical effects of digitization (CAPP/Universidad Pontificia Comillas/BBVA fourth ‘Dublin Process’ expert consultation, Madrid, January 2017)
- New alliances and ethical dialogue in the search for Inclusive Economic Reforms (May 2016 CAPP International conference at the Vatican).
All the papers are made available for further research and debate on the CAPP website www.centesimusannus.org and through other publications.
These activities aim at complying with the CAPP Foundation’s purpose, as defined by founder St. John Paul II: “to promote informed knowledge of the social teachings of the Church and of the activity of the Holy See among qualified and socially motivated business and professional leaders”.1 It also tries to take up the challenging message addressed to the Foundation by Pope Francis: “It is my hope that your conference will contribute to generating new models of economic progress more clearly directed to the universal common good, inclusion and integral development, the creation of labour and investment in human resources.”2
By adhering to the CAPP Foundation, members commit themselves to acquire knowledge of Catholic social teachings and to broadcast the conclusions reached within the Foundation in their professional circles. They must be Catholic. In addition, the Board has established a group of friends of the CAPP Foundation to allow non-Catholics to collaborate in its work. The Foundation has always tried to maintain rigorous standards in its work, whereby academic and ethical research is confronted with direct management experience. The Board is assisted by an international Scientific Committee and by ecclesiastical counsellors.
The CAPP Foundation has established the biennial international ‘Economy and Society’ Awards. His Eminence Cardinal Marx, Chairman of the Jury, will comment on this years’ award winners.
The CAPP Foundation’s activities are supported by members’ fees and donations. The endowment’s revenue allows the Foundation to make a donation every year to the Holy Father’s charities. The amount given to the Holy Father and to Holy See institutions on his indications add to more than 2 million euro since 2010. Fully audited accounts are available on the Foundation’s website.
1 Fondazione Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice, by-laws art. 3.
2 Address to the Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice Foundation,May 13th 2016.