Last week, I was again at the Vatican for the annual meeting of the Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice, the lay foundation created by Pope John Paul II to advocate Catholic Social Teachings in the world.
I was graciously asked to join the Advisory Board of the Foundazione. Lord Daniel Brennan, our Chair Emeritus, is also a member of the board. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, a member of our World Advisory Council, is also quite involved with the Fondazione.
The principal topic for discussion was the implication of robotics and automation for work in the coming years; how will market capitalism provide sufficient employment for those who need to make their livings?
At this year’s conference, two good friends of the CRT were keynote speakers; Raymond Baker of Global Financial Integrity and Lord Robert Skidelsky of London.
Raymond spoke to the role of illicit financial transfers and secrecy accounts in sustaining human trafficking and other crimes like corruption of government and inequalities of wealth in poor and developing countries.
Lord Skidelsky pointed out the moral atrophy which occurred in the 19th century when political economy became the discipline of economics only by hiving off considerations of morals and norms of social justice. He argued for the re-creation of a humanitarian and liberal arts vision of economic materialism integrated with political justice and cultural well-being.
At the conclusion of the conference, we were honored by an audience with Pope Francis.
The Pope shared his thoughts with us on the contributions to be made by the Fondazione.
When I introduced myself to the Pontif, he asked that I pray for him, which left me somewhat taken aback. I did with full intention of contributing as best I could to the success of his work on behalf of the common good.