Trip to the US

Luigino Bruni has been invited to participate in two conferences in the US from October 15 to 17, 2009.

Trip to the US

By Anne-Claire Motte

Luigino_Bruni_Brendan_WilsonLuigino Bruni, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Milan-Bicocca and coordinator of the International commission of the Economy of Communion (EoC), was invited to participate in two conferences in the US from October 15 to 17. This visit marked a step forward for the ongoing dialogue with North-American scholars and those who have been following with interest the development in the EoC project. “We need the breadth of this vision which brings together theory and practice to be able to stay on track with Chiara Lubich’s initial inspiration” commented Joan Duggan, entrepreneur in New York and president of the North American Association of the Economy of Communion.

The first step of the trip was St Paul-Minnesota, in the northern part of the US, at the Hamline University School of Law, for the annual symposium of the Journal of Law and Religion, an international, interdisciplinary forum committed to studying law in its social context, including moral and religious views of law and life.

Tsvi_Blanchard_Luigino_BruniThe Global Economic Crisis, Law and the Religious Traditions” was the title of the symposium which gathered about 50 scholars, including professors of law, theology and religion; among which Jewish, Muslim, and Christian of various denominations. Bruni had been invited to be the keynote speaker of the symposium. His presentation entitled “Toward an Economy of Communion” was well-received and became the leitmotiv of the two-day conference. From the discussion emerged an integral vision of the person, which leaves room for values to permeate all aspects of life including the economic sphere. In response to Bruni’s paper, Rabbi Blanchard, Director of Organizational Development at CLAL  -The National Jewish Center for Learning- considered the proposed framework in light of the Jewish texts and traditions in an insightful presentation entitled “Shared Freedom: the Logic of Communion and Individual Liberty.”

Among the participants, some had already been exposed to the EoC project in the North-American seminar on “Love of Neighbor and the Legal Profession”, at Loppiano, Italy, in March 2008, or other international “Communion and Law” events. 
During the symposium, these participants were able to give examples of how love put at the basis of each relationship can permeate the social and economic structures. For example, Deborah Cantrell, Law Professor at the University Colorado Law School at Boulder, explored connections between the vision proposed by Bruni and principles of Buddhism.

The second stop of the trip was New York, at the Fordham School of Law, where about 60 people – lawyers, entrepreneurs, a well-known journalist, people from the Focolare movement and many students in law and economics – gathered to explore the theme “Caritas in Veritate: Fostering a Culture of Communion.”

Sala_FordhamReferring to the encyclical, Bruni explained that it is possible to live the principles of gratuity, fraternity and reciprocity in the market economy. Properly understood, these terms pose a significant challenge to economic discourse and public debate today. As he noted: “the culture of the EoC, which is not a non-profit project, demonstrates that communion, reciprocity, gratuity and fraternity can become the culture of “normal” economic activity. Values are not within the exclusive domain of the non-profit sector.”

Bruni’s presentation was followed by the analysis of a lawyer from Washington, DC, Brendan M. Wilson, Esq. on the development of “hybrid” entities which have characteristics of both profit and nonprofit structures. He emphasized the importance of the EoC as a model for a deeper understanding of these new legal structures. Also from this presentation emerged an integral vision of the human person, and the possibility of harmonizing seemingly contrasting interests. At the end of the program, Bruni paid tribute to the fact that the initial seed of the EoC had been planted in 1990 (a year before the official launch), when, during her visit to New York, Chiara Lubich had prayed for the walls of consumerism and materialism to crumble.

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