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'Economy needs ethics', pope says

Benedict underscores role of greed in global recession

10 February, 18:56
'Economy needs ethics', pope says
'Economy needs ethics', pope says
'Economy needs ethics', pope says

(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 10 - The economy needs ethics to survive the recession, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday in a return to a recurring theme in his addresses focusing on the need to rethink the global economy along moral lines.

''The global financial crisis has impoverished no small number of people,'' he stated during a general audience at the Vatican.

Underscoring the need to put ''people back at the center of economic decision-making,'' the pope said ''a new code of business ethics'' was required to usher in the transformation.

As an example, he pointed to the figure of St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) who spent his life preaching against avarice and pride, two qualities Benedict blames for the recession.

''He knew human nature well and urged us to resist our greedy natures and and be generous and humble instead''.

The role of egotism and exploitation in the economic downturn has been a recurring theme in the pope's public addresses in recent months.

Last week, the Pope issued a direct appeal to the government to avoid job loss, making specific mention of workers at a Fiat plant in Sicily and an Alcoa factory in Sardinia, which are both facing closure.

During a United Nations food summit in Rome last November, he railed against the ''opulence and waste'' inherent in consumer culture, which he said was largely responsible for the spread of poverty.

In September, he told members of Italian farmers' union Coldiretti that the present crisis was ''fundamentally one of trust,'' which had come up short leaving doubt it in its place.

The importance of ethics in business was also a major focus of his third encyclical, Charity in Truth, in which Benedict said unscrupulous business practices had derailed the world economy.

''Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty,'' the document read. The head of Italy's state-funded Microcredit organization, Mario Baccini on Wednesday seized on the pope's declaration to underline the potential of small, low-interest loans to lift families out of poverty.

''Microloans give people the tools they need to improve their lives, which on a wider scale, can help stimulate the economy,'' he said.

While the Italian Committee for Microcredit works extensively with cooperation and development projects abroad, it also subsidizes microloans in Italy through a network of participating banks.

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