The root of the European debt crisis, according to Pope Benedict XVI, is a lack of faith.
In his annual Christmas address to the Vatican yesterday, Pope Benedict spoke about the cause of the European debt crisis. He told the clergy, “As this year draws to a close, Europe is undergoing an economic and financial crisis, which is ultimately based on the ethical crisis looming over the Old Continent.”
“Such values as solidarity, commitment to one’s neighbor and responsibility towards the poor and suffering are largely uncontroversial, but motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to praise renunciation and make sacrifices.”
Europe’s financial problems began in 2009 with the downgrading of government debt. Greece, Ireland, and Portugal have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. Analyst Janis Emmanouilidis told the Voice of America, “We do not know whether this crisis has reached a size in which it has become unstoppable or whether we are in a way in the final phase of it.”
Yesterday’s statements were the second in which the pope linked the economy and ethics. In 2009, Pope Benedict gave a teaching on economics called Charity in Truth. He stated, “Today’s international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise.”
He also said, “In the long-term, these convictions (that the economy must be autonomous and shielded from a moral character) have led to economic, social, and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise.”
He went on to suggest that the economy requires ethics that put people first in order to be successful. “Development is impossible without upright men and women, without financiers and politicians whose consciences are finely attuned to the requirements of the common good.”