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Encyclical Letter "Caritas in Veritate": An Economist's Reading


  • Dembinski, Paul H.


On the 29 of June 2009, the Pope Benedict XVIth published Caritas in Veritate, his third encyclical letter. It was addressed to the clergy but also to “lay faithful and all people of good will”. In the two papers assembled here under one single title, the author enters in dialogue with the Papal encyclical from the perspective of an economist interested in ethical issues related specially to finance. > First paper “Incompleteness of Economy and Business: A Forceful Reminder” is to be published in the Journal of Business Ethics. It underlines the logical incompleteness of both economic theory and business practice. Although Caritas in Veritate does not address this question explicitly, the reminder of incompleteness seems to be the main lessons the “dismal” discipline should draw form the encyclical. > Second paper “Fecundity vs. Efficiency: Rediscovering Relations” will appear in the forthcoming book “Human Development in Business” (D. Mele & C. Dierksmeier, ed). The paper analyses the ethical underpinnings of the present systemic crisis. It builds on the “category of relation” - as suggested by Caritas in Veritate - in the context of financial activities and contrasts it with the “category of transaction”. In conclusion, the paper suggests that transactions may breed efficiency but only relations will breed fecundity - economic, social and spiritual. Caritas in Veritate, as every encyclical is a letter, an invitation to exchange. The comments and thoughts expressed here are not only respectful answer to the Pope's message but also a set of questions and possible suggestions on how to make the main message of the Church easier to understand be by “lay faithful and all people of good will” who are either practitioners of business and finance, or teachers of management, finance or economics in universities or business schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Dembinski, Paul H., 2011. "Encyclical Letter "Caritas in Veritate": An Economist's Reading," FSES Working Papers 422, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fri:fribow:fribow00422

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Caritas in Veritate ; ethics ; exchange ; financial crisis ; Gödel's Theorems ; incompleteness in economics ; purpose of business ; relation ; System of National Accounts (SNA) ; transaction;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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