The Pope, the Rabbi, and the Moral Economy

In our oh-so-secular age, it’s paradoxical that religious leaders’ pronouncements on subjects ranging from marriage to markets invariably receive considerable media attention. This makes it even more surprising that no one seems to have noticed the parallels between Benedict’s XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, released on July 7th, and a provocative op-ed written by Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, in the London Times two weeks earlier. The pope and the rabbi had a similar message, which amounts to the following. Some of our contemporary economic problems reflect a deeper moral crisis within Western civilization. Until we acknowledge this, shifts in economic policy and business practice will only provide limited solutions. To be sure, it’s not a message everyone will appreciate. But that doesn’t diminish its accuracy.