A prominent Catholic bishop recently told development experts at a UN meeting that the family is the time-tested “building block” of a charitable and economically prospering society. He said healthy, stable families allow “intergenerational solidarity” to take root in cultures, where the young gratuitously care for their elders, and vice versa, out of a fundamental Christian moral duty and capacity for human love.
Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt from Bolghatti, India, made these remarks as the Holy See’s Permanent Observer, when seeking greater support for pro-family institutions and policies in a March 31 address he delivered in New York at the United Nations.
Chullikatt said that encouraging mutual family care allows private welfare to flourish, thus lifting a heavy and unsustainable fiscal burden off states, many of which are in constant deficit, riddled with corrupt welfare officers, and face unprecedented levels of sovereign debt that threaten to bankrupt national treasuries.
Archbishop Chullikatt spoke during the tenth session of the UN’s Open Working Group on “Poverty Eradication and Promoting Equality”. The working group aims to implement a set of economic objectives, as strategically planned at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil in June 2012. The Holy See is a key stakeholder in the continuing development and execution of these goals.
Chullikatt’s address centered on the nuclear family, while making an integral connection between caring for our loved ones and sustainable welfare policy in developing nations:
“[O]bstinacy in recognizing the obvious role of the family in eradicating poverty and addressing its causes with family-sensitive policies that bolster the stability of this most fundamental of societal institutions is highly irresponsible and ultimately counter-productive on the part of governments.”
Expanding on the Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity, Archbishop Chullikatt recognized that families should seek first to take care of their own loved ones, rather than rely on third parties or become dependent on state-run agencies for welfare. Referring back to the Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Chullikatt echoed that people, not states, are at the center of economic progress and sustainable development.
Through its Religious and Economic Freedom Conference Series taking place in the U.S., Italy, Israel and the Philippines over the next two years, the Acton Institute will address these issues and values. The conference series will focus debate on the ways in which religious liberty inspires a society to develop morally and spiritually and in ways that help nations grow economically, based on religious principles that drive cultural adhesion to individual responsibility, charitable giving, and an ongoing concern for human dignity and vocational dedication in the workplace and society at large.
The first conference of the series, Faith, State, and the Economy: Perspectives From East and West, will take place this April 29 in Rome. A range of experts provide perspective on the topic, including Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.