Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 20, 2005
Suffuse globalization in ethics
Bishop Fred Henry tells trustees students must develop an inclusive world vision
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary has challenged educators to help create a more just globalization.
And he said Catholic schools must introduce students into a world vision guided by the principles of inclusivity, collaboration, love and the fundamental option for the lost.
"If we can introduce our students into this kind of a world vision, a wonderful world awaits us as we break open our future."
Speaking at the national convention of Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association at the Fantasyland Hotel June 11, Henry challenged trustees to help create a globalization with a human face - one that doesn't homogenize culture or marginalize people.
The poor left out
So far, whole continents are being left out, he said, noting that only one per cent of Africans have ever used the Internet and 40 per cent of Latin Americans still can't read and write.
"There is massive disparity in wealth and power, both within countries and between countries," Henry lamented. "A strong fear is that the poorest countries of the world will become marginalized in the globalization process, so that there will be both greater world integration and loser societies that are almost completely left out in a kind of globalization apartheid."
Henry gave the closing keynote address at the June 9-11 convention. More than 330 delegates from across Canada took part in the event, which also offered a number of workshops.
The process of globalization - the interconnection of nations and cultures driven by market forces and supplemented by technology, capital transfer and international trade structures - involves perilous risks, according to Henry.
They include the spillover of weapons of mass destruction, the potential impact of genetically modified crops, terrorism and global crime syndicates, climate change, new diseases such as SARS, deforestation, water pollution, the depletion of fish stocks, and the Asian and Brazilian financial crises.
There are also great opportunities in globalization such as the vision of a global commons, a shared sense of the humane, the world as a global village, promises of economic and health betterment around the world, and international recognition of human rights.
"Globalization, as a human activity and product, is both graced and sinful in the personal choices and activities that take place within its scope and in the structures and institutions that incarnate and sustain it," the bishop said.
"From the Christian biblical and social traditions, economic justice requires that each person have adequate resources, insofar as they are available to the community, to survive, to develop and thrive, and to give back in service to the community."
The Christian understanding of economic justice "looks for fairness and adequacy in the outcomes of economic activity as well as in its competitive process," Henry said. "It defines a minimum acceptable quality of life for each person and all peoples without which there is a failure of economic justice."
Henry said Catholics could contribute an ethic and a spirituality to globalization.
"Globalization has its own logic, but not its own ethic, nor its own spirituality," he said. "Both technology and globalization press to cross the next stream, to climb the next mountain, to conquer the next field.
"But this is not like a force of nature that cannot be moved, shaped and developed. How we shape it and who will direct the shaping of it is the ethical key and how, in what spirit, it will be shaped is the spiritual grounding."
In his presentation, Henry reminded trustees the human person must always be an end and not a means, a subject and not an object or a commodity of trade. "Here is the cornerstone of the Catholic social vision," he said.
"Catholics recognize regions; they recognize nation states with their boundaries and borders; they recognize structures that exist across the world. But the fundamental moral unit they must be concerned about is the human being in community."
The term solidarity, Henry said, is where Catholicism prepares itself to engage globalization. Pope John Paul II taught that the globalization of solidarity would express a key Catholic belief - that all people constitute one family under God.
"We need to challenge the people in the wealthy industrial countries, especially members of the faith community, to re-evaluate our lifestyle preferences. Ecologists variously estimate that for all people on earth to lead a basic middle class Western lifestyle would require between three and nine more planets the size and wealth of earth.
"Progress toward achieving this objective will probably require the exposure of people in the North to the lives of people in the poor nations of the South and the building of relationships of solidarity with them," Henry said.
"The Catholic community also needs to develop a spirituality of solidarity for impoverished people that reaffirms their sacred dignity and calls them to the struggle for justice to claim their rights."
Development should be evaluated by a triple bottom line, which adds social and environmental issues to economic concerns, the bishop said.
"The 'social bottom line' includes respect for human dignity and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms that flow from that dignity.
"We must increase our sensitivity to being stewards of the creation that God has entrusted to us."
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