The John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought co-sponsored the seminar,“On Wealth Creation and Distribution Within the Catholic Social Tradition,”Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2001, in Rome, Italy. The seminar served as a follow-up to a conference in Puebla, Mexico on the same topic in July 2000. The purpose of the more recent seminar was to examine the interdisciplinary relationships of Catholic social thought, and management practice and theory.

There were 20 participants from such disciplines as economics, theology, philosophy,finance and management, many of whom were chosen for the purpose of contributingarticles for potential publication in a series on Catholic social thought by the Universityof Notre Dame Press. Very few books and articles currently exist on the intersection ofthe Church’s social tradition, and wealth creation and distribution.

As globalization accelerates, the topic of wealth creation and distribution is of criticalimportance. John Paul II recently stated, “The Church must be attentive to the clamorof the neediest. It must not be forgotten that concern for the social is part of theChurch’s evangelizing mission and that human development is part of evangelization,because the latter tends toward the integral liberation of the person.” While all the participants were committed to the importance of the topic and the need to createa society that fosters the development of people, not all the participants agreedon the scope of the problem, nor on any possible solution.

As a result, the seminar was a lively exchange of ideas from a variety of different disciplines and experiences. Most differences focused on the question of distribution of wealth. Some participants saw the market and human freedom as the venue through which wealth must be distributed, whereas others argued that the state must play a more active role. Others argued that the lack of capital ownership shuts people out from a critical source of income. And still others saw the increase of wages among the uneducated as a place to focus. Through discussions, debates and readings, the participants are revising their papers, and the book should be published sometime in 2003.

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