The Economy of Communion (EoC) is not the only legacy Chiara has left to the field of economics but it is the main one both in terms of praxis and theory which I shall now try to outline in this paper. It is a legacy of no small importance when we consider how the economic crisis is one of the most significant elements of the anthropological and relational crisis of our times.
Although the EoC is still little more than a seed, many consider it to be a substantial experience within the economic-social activities that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, so much so that – to give just one example from the Catholic world – it was cited as a model to be developed by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (no. 46), a reference that was not marginal given the structure of this writing.
Meeting with EoC entrepreneurs
Loppiano, May 17, 2003
Dear entrepreneurs and friends, We're gathered here at the conference of the Italian entrepreneurs for the Economy of Communion. I read the program and have found it engaging and fulfilling.
I was also asked to address the conference.
I accepted the invitation with all my heart since, as you probably know, I love the EoC very much. Among the reasons for this are that it offers visibility to our Movement in the world and glorifies God.
Diagnosis of the crisis.
Europe is going through a grievous crisis, not only on the economic level, the worst since the last war. It is from this Europe though that something new can come about for the economy, the financial picture and our lifestyle, and in this search for something new even the charisms, the communities and Christian movements can give, together with many other ‘seekers of the common good', an essential contribution.
Europe is the place where the market economy was invented. The medieval cities, as well as the monasteries and convents, were those living laboratories from which the first categories emerged, the first institutions, that in the following centuries gave life to the market economy as we know it today, or rather, the way we knew it, because the Europe of today, and with it the world, risks destroying through financial dictatorship a patrimony of civil virtues, of trades and work ethics, on which the market has rested and has grown in modern times.
pubblished on www.vatican.va , 16/06/2011
I am pleased to greet the participants in this important Summit that has brought together so many world leaders in the areas of business, the economy and finance.
I do not intend to enter into the technical or practical aspects of your deliberations in these days, but rather to offer a few reflections on the anthropological, spiritual and ethical foundations of your activity in the light of the Church’s social teaching – and particularly the understanding of business and management set forth in the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate.
Let's go back to 1991, when Chiara Lubich had the intuition of the EoC. First of all, it was not the poverty in itself that scandalized Chiara, as much as the contrast between the skyscrapers of that Pauline Avenue and the "crown of thorns" of the barracks that surrounded them, which she saw while landing in Sao Paulo. Poverty in itself is not a scandal, because it is an endemic of humanity, from prehistoric times onward. What is scandalous is a society that, even while having the means to build skyscrapers, leaves children to die of hunger. That is where Chiara felt the urgency to do something. She did not launch a project in the middle of the city, in the faveles of Sao Paulo as what might have been the logical thing to do. Instead, she proposed something in the fields, next to the movement's small town: a business park with businesses that could produce profits to share. Why does a business park arise next to a small town and not in another place?
Rome, Palazzo Borromeo, April 15, 2010
My wife and I moved from Holland to Italy 5 years ago because we were fascinated, ever since it was born, by this new economic project, the Economy of Communion. In history, all spiritual movements were change agents (Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, etc.) and some were change agents also in the economic field. This is the case for the Focolare movement.
Chiara Lubich, founder of the Movement, was in Brazil in 1991 to get together with the Focolare community there. The Brazilian Focolare community reflected the country’s reality, where the disparity in income distribution was very evident. Many of the Focolare members were very poor and lived in the favelas without a job and without a future. To correct such a problem of social injustice and of the wrong distribution of goods, Chiara thought of enterprises and businesses as the natural “tool” to do this. She launched right then, a proposal: putting together talents and resources, creating businesses, and entrusting them to competent people in order to produce riches to divide into three parts.
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is an honor to have been invited to address you today on the subject matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Economy of Communion (ECO) paradigm, with particular focus on how an EOC enterprise, Bangko Kabayan, Inc. operates.
This morning, my colleague, Ms Tita Puangco, talked about how, for an EOC company, CSR is not an added element to an EOC firm’s activities or practices. Rather, it’s basic principles of “embracing responsibility for the impact of its activities on environment, consumers, employees, communities” and all else embraced by the term “stakeholders”, encouraging community growth and development proactively, deliberate inclusion of the public good in corporate decision-making and honoring the triple bottomline: Planet, People and Profit – all these are intrinsic to the life of an EOC enterprise.
Presentation sent by Luigino Bruni, University of Milano-Bicocca and Sophia (FI)
Pacognano di Vico Equense (NA), 27-31 July 2009
Who tells and interprets civil history without seeing the role of charisms tells a partial history.The experience lived in these years took what was an idea of mine and cultivated it into what is a profound conviction today: whoever recounts and considers civil and economic history without seeing the role of charisms, recounts a partial (and therefore erroneous) version of history. When charisms are at work in civil dynamics, another dimension enters into the scene with them. It is one characterized by an action of extraordinary and rare strength — love. Theology and Christian thought call this dimension “agape,” coining a then-new Greek word, because of the newness of the experience that Christians were living and still live thanks to Jesus´ life and message. Agape bursts into history along with the charisms, making its entrance both inside and outside the institutional boundaries of the Church (given the universal nature of Christianity), touching and moving people in all times and places.
Good Practices: The Economy of Communion (in Italian)
Presentation of Andrea Leonardi, University of Studies of Trent
Trent, 25 February 2010
Presentation by Gabriella Berloffa, Economics Department, University of Studies
Trent, 25 February 2010
As described by Luigino Bruni, "The Economy of Communion arose from an original intuition which Chiara Lubich had during her stay in a small town of the Focolare, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the end of May 1991. Flying over Sao Paulo, Chiara was struck by the extreme misery and the many favelas that surrounded the city like a "crown of thorns". The strength of her reaction was probably due to the enormous contrast between those huts (where even various people of her community lived) and the many luxurious skyscrapers... An intuition emerged from that experience: extend the dynamic of communion from individuals - that were already practicing it - to businesses, inviting entrepreneurs and shareholders to put their profits in common... In the very first days the idea was already better focused: business profits should be placed in communion according to three precise goals: a) to finance the business itself; b) to spread the so-called "culture of giving"; c) for the poor in contact with the Focolare community" (Bruni, 2004, p.20).
If the economy of communion limited itself to a free decision about the use of business profits, it would not represent in itself that "radical" alternative to the prevailing economic vision, an idea also underlined by a few authors (see Bruni, 2004; Zamagni, 2004).
See full document (in Italian)
Presentation by Benedetto Gui
Chiang Mai (Thailand), February 4, 2010
“People want meaning in their lives – the kind of meaning that comes only from knowing that you are doing your part to make our world a better place. … [This] is an aspect of human nature that is totally ignored in the existing business world.” (Muhammad Yunus, Creating a World without Poverty, p. 162).
“It must be remembered that the market does not exist in the pure state. It is shaped by the cultural configurations which define it and give it direction..” (Encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, §36)
The recent financial and economic crisis has caused widespread pains around the world. The prevailing attitude in the present phase of the crisis is one of impatient hope that the recovery will come soon, so we can go back to the previous state of affairs.
However, we must reflect on what has happened. The spark of the crisis has been the burst of the speculative bubble of American house prices. If we go deeper, we find that behind the scene of the crisis there are structural causes, such as the systematic excess of consumption of US households and inadequate financial regulations. However, if we go deeper still, a crucial question resurfaces, one that is more pressing than ever: is there anything systematically wrong in the economic system we live in that we must fix?
In the title, a completely unpredictable logical nexus is established between three words: “economy”, “fraternity”, and “charism”. I will now try to illustrate this connection by dividing my reflections into three parts.
In the first part, I´ll try to explain why fraternity can be considered as the broken promise of the French Revolution, which had proposed these three principles, “liberté, égalité e fraternité” (liberty, equality and fraternity), one next to the other.
In the second part, I´ll try to illustrate the contribution offered by the charisms (those historical and modern; those religious and civic) to the development of the modern economy.
The third part will briefly concentrate on the love trilogy: Eros, Philia, and Agape. In lay terms, we could define these as “contract” (eros), reciprocal relationships (philia), and free and unconditional gift (agape). The lack of just one of these fibers in the social fabric could cause pathological derivations and put the very survival of the civil society at risk.
Regarding the theme of the common good, economic science is confronted with a paradox.On the one side, modern economic science originated in the 18th century with strong ties to theidea of the common good. Whether the Scottish tradition of Adam Smith centered around the Wealth of Nations”, or the Italian tradition of Antonio Genovesi centered around “public happiness,” both conceived the economy in terms of the common good.
by Teresa Ganzon
Chiara Lubich’s concept of the Economy of Communion was a revolutionary idea that immediately resonated in our hearts. It transformed our way of looking at our business. We found a renewed commitment to work and gained new understanding on the way the rural bank could be managed and how it held incredible potential to benefit the common good.
We decided to adhere to this concept and as a consequence, grow our business beyond the one-unit rural bank that it was. By doing so, we could provide more employment, increase our coverage of financial services and also, earn more profits to be shared in the Economy of Communion.
Dear entrepreneurs, workers, professors, students and all those involved in the project for the Economy of Communion and in New Humanity’s World of Economy and Work,
We have come to the third international convention of the Economy of Communion “Working in Communion: Many Challenges, One Proposal”.
"Work in Communion"
Castel Gandolfo (RM), 30/11-2/12/2007