Building an ethical vision of a South African economy: perspectives from Catholic Social Teaching

By Bishop Emeritus Kevin Dowling

On the Day of Reflection on South African economy, on the 19th November 2021, Bishop Kevin Dowling gave the below talk.

The 3 issues we hear of so often in South Africa are poverty, inequality and unemployment, and I am very aware that there are multiple examples across the society of people who are vulnerable and suffer in so many ways.

If anything, our experience of the Covid-19 pandemic posits the need not to think of returning to what was regarded as the normal in the past, and especially to the model out which the South African economy seemed to operate  We need to envision a different economic order based on ethical principles which will better ensure that the quality of life of all people, especially the most vulnerable, as well as the environment, will be both protected and enhanced through innovative policies and thinking out of the box. We need to create something different from what has been the norm especially as far as the economy is concerned.

To the ordinary person in South Africa like me, the economy seems to be a very complex issue – one for the experts and professional economists. It is almost as if the economy in the country is controlled, as it were, by several forces which are invisible to us ordinary citizens, and which we cannot influence. We just have to do our best with what we have and what we can do in life.

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