Second socialism panel discusses John Paul’s perspective

Margaret Peppiatt
Staff Writer

Multiple speakers addressed the current “social problem” within the context of Pope St. John Paul II’s social encyclicals Tuesday in the Gentile Gallery.

The talk, titled “Transcending the Dilemma: St. John Paul II on the Key to the Social Question,” was the second in a series that began last November that aims to identify and find solutions to modern socioeconomic dilemmas through an ongoing discussion.

Stephen Hildebrand, who holds a doctorate in historical theology and is the chair of the department of theology, opened the night with a brief introduction. His remarks were followed by a presentation by Deborah Savage, professor of theology, who holds a doctorate in religious studies.

Savage explained the nature of human work according to social encyclicals of John Paul II, an approach that Savage believed would contribute to discussions of “what sort of economic system might truly befit the human person.”

Work is a fundamental part of human existence that allows man to actualize his potential, Savage said. She emphasized John Paul II’s notion of work being made for man, not man for work.

The economic problem must also be tackled by addressing the cultural and legal dimensions of society identified by John Paul II, Savage said, mentioning that the world is lacking agreement on what the common good is.

After the presentation, a panel of speakers offered insights into the economic problem according to their own academic and professional backgrounds.

The panelists were Juan Jauregui, former senior economist at the International Monetary Fund; Andrew Jones, who holds a doctorate in European history; Alex Plato, who holds a doctorate in philosophy; and Michael Welker, who holds a doctorate in international economics.

Welker said that manual labor often was viewed as “contemptible” throughout history. Christ changed that widespread perception through his work as a carpenter, Welker said.

Plato discussed the importance of defining key terms such as “socialism” that are at the heart of disagreements about social problems.

“This talk addressed urgent issues in the minds of today’s Catholics, especially today’s young people,” said junior Monica Costanzo, adding that the talk “gave useful distinctions and principles necessary to come to an answer worthy of the human person and his end.”

The talk was sponsored by the department of accounting, business administration and economics and the department of theology.