Orthodox, Catholics Said to Share Social Doctrine
Metropolitan Kirill Notes Possible Aid to Dialogue
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ROME, SEPT. 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- An official of the Russian Orthodox Church says there are many similarities between Orthodox and Catholic social doctrine.
This was highlighted today during the presentation in Moscow of "L'Etica del Bene Comune nel Pensiero Sociale della Chiesa" (The Ethics of the Common Good in the Social Thought of the Church), by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state.
The volume was published Tuesday by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the president of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, wrote the prologue.
The metropolitan explained in the prologue that the many similarities between Catholic and Orthodox social doctrine "will give an important thrust to dialogue."
In this connection, he clarified the fundamentals of Orthodox thought on this matter, in particular the vision of the concept of the common good as "fraternity," a perspective he shares with Cardinal Bertone.
The prologue was published in the Sept. 25 Italian edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
The Orthodox concept of the common good, the metropolitan continued, "is not reduced only to material well-being, to peace and harmony in earthly life, but refers primarily to man's and society's aspiration of eternal life, which is the highest good."
This does not mean, he said, that Orthodoxy "denies the material aspect of human existence," but "invites a setting of priorities. [...] Material goods are not a condition of salvation which cannot be given up; hence, their acquisition cannot become an end in itself."
Money is only a means to an end, Metropolitan Kirill added. It must always be moving, in circulation. "Genuine, totally exciting work, is the businessman's real wealth. The absence of the worship of money emancipates man, makes him free interiorly," he contended.
For his part, Cardinal Bertone explains in the book that for Catholics, the concept of the common good is not limited to ideas of justice and solidarity, proper to philosophic utilitarianism, but that the idea of "reciprocity" must be introduced, which allows for a broader concept of social relations.
In this connection, the great contribution of Catholic thought is to introduce -- in the utilitarian philosophic scheme that considers social relations as an exchange between "me" and "you," based on a contract -- the idea of a "third" party, based on the concept of "fraternity," he clarified.
"Whereas the principle of solidarity is a principle of social organization which tends to make what is different equal, the principle of fraternity allows what is equal to affirm its own diversity," the cardinal explained.
This fraternal society that social doctrine postulates goes beyond justice and solidarity, as it adds "the dimension of gratitude -- charity -- and, therefore, the possibility of hope," he said. Modern societies "must be supported by three autonomous principles: exchange -- through contracts; redistribution of wealth -- through the fiscal system; and reciprocity -- through works that attest with deeds to fraternity."
"A Christian," Cardinal Bertone affirmed, "cannot be content with a political horizon that looks to a just society, but must also look to a fraternal society."