Vatican says Church has role in fighting corruption "evil"

In a document published yesterday, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace highlighted the moral and formative role of the Church in developing democratic and legal safeguards against corruption.

The note entitled "The Fight Against Corruption" synthesises the main points of a June conference organised by the Council with the participation of international officials, diplomats and experts on corruption.

"Corruption crosses all social sectors (...) and cannot be attributed only to those who work in the economic sector or only to public officials", the report says.

Factors that encourage corruption include "the disparity between the level at which corruption is fought, often limited to the level of single states, while its range of action is (...) international".

Citing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the reports says that corruption distorts the role of the governing institutions, using them as grounds of political exchange between private requests and governmental actions.

"This way, political choices promote the limited objectives of those having the means to influence them and create obstacles to the realisation of common good for all the citizens. Also, corruption is one of the causes contributing to underdevelopment and poverty, depriving the peoples of the fundamental common good that is legality".

Important in the fight against corruption is "the passage from an authoritarian society to a democratic society" and "from centralised to participating society".

However, it also warns that this process of social change may "demolish the solidity of moral convictions" and "facilitate the exportation of corruption".

The note also highlights the role of the Church, which it says "can have an evermore relevant role in the prevention of corruption, efficiently contributing to the moral education and formation of citizens, especially with the fundamental principles of her social doctrine: the dignity of the human person, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, a preferential option towards the poor, the universal destination of goods".

"The fight against corruption is a value, but also a need," the report continues.

"Corruption is an evil, but also a cost; refusing corruption is a good, but also an advantage; abandoning corrupt actions may generate development and well-being; honest attitudes should be promoted, the dishonest ones punished."

Since organised crime "knows no boundaries", greater collaboration between governments is required including "agreements on the procedures for confiscating and recuperating what has been illegally gained", the report concludes.

Justice and Peace document: The Fight against Corruption (Vatican Information Service, 4/10/06)

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Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

5 Oct 2006