Monday, February 6, 2017

Fighting Corruption

1. Reading the note of the Commission of Justice and Peace, Fight against corruption, we 
can share  our reflections. Corruption is found in many sectors of society. According to 
the Compendium (#411) corruption introduces mistrust in public authority . Citizens become so disappointed with their leaders. 

In this way the institutions become weak. But corruption not just destroys institutions it also 
2. A society functions well if there is respect for rules and transparency (or what the commission  terms as “legality”). Respect for laws and transparency is a COMMON GOOD. It is an important  aspect of social life that makes people bloom. Respect for laws and transparency is also part of  the UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF GOODS. All members of society must have access to equality of the rules/laws and must have knowledge of what exactly is going on in their institutions. The leaders of citizens must prove that they really RESPECT LAWS AND TRANSPARENCY. 

3. Note then how important TRUST is. People must be able to trust their government and can live  with the support of the laws and information. In other words, the society must be ruled by trust and trust is supported by a good legal system. Remember what we said before in class, trust is like oil in a machine; it is oil that facilitates the proper running of the machine. Corruption then is like rust; it promotes the breakdown of society. In a society where corruption thrives, the laws and the transparency are not respected. Corruption is a practice that takes a detour away from the legal and the transparent.
4 The Church offers her “Social Doctrine” and within that are “principles” such as the common 
good, the universal destination of goods, solidarity and subsidiarity. Corruption is a RADICAL 
CONTRAST to these principles. 

a. Corruption exploits human dignity through selfish interests. 
b. Corruption is opposed to the common good because corruption promotes selfishness, individualism, cynicism, party interests. 
c. Corruption contradicts solidarity because it produces poverty; it is anti-poor by channeling resources away from the poor. 
d. Corruption contradicts subsidiarity because it rejects social roles and institutions. 
e. Corruption rejects the universal destination of goods because the respect for the law, which is a “universal good”, is thwarted. 

5. The Christian--and the Church, of course--must fight against corruption. How? There is 
Corruption thrives in the absence of these two. How can this struggle against corruption take place.  The note/document of the Justice and Peace Commission proposes a particular strategy. This strategy is taken from Pope (Saint) John Paul II's Centesimus Annus (#38). The strategy is a work for "human ecology". For Pope John Paul II God gave us to one another, "man too is God's gift to man".  The Pope then continues, "A person must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed .... 

"The human person receives from God its essential dignity and with it the capacity to 
transcend every     social order so as to move towards truth and goodness. But one is also 
conditioned by the social structure in which one lives, by the education one has received and by the environment. These elements can either help or hinder a person's living in accordance with the truth.  The decisions which create a human environment can give rise to specific structures of sin which impede the full realization of those who are in any way oppressed by them. To destroy such structures and replace them with more authentic forms of living in community is a task which demands courage and patience" (Centesimus annus #38).

6. Note then the importance of an environment that is truly human--both in the natural and moral way.  This echoes what is in the traditional moral theology of the Church: natural law which is a moral law. As Pope (Saint) John Paul II says, “ Not only is it wrong from the ethical point of view to disregard human nature... in practice it is impossible to do so” (Centesimus annus #25). People need an environment--today of social structures--THAT HELP THEM LIVE IN TRUTH. 

7. What then can some options be in the fight against corruption and build this “human ecology”? The Justice and Peace Commission can help us here (see Fight Against Corruption #7)? Let us mention some options.

a. The family must accomplish its education role to the children.
b. Laws must be for the good of society.
c. People have to be educated with what is good.
d. The pace of justice should not be excessively slow; make it more responsive.
e. Develop an INTOLERANCE of transgressions.
f. Let schools stimulate personal growth.

8. The fight against corruption needs to develop the conviction and awareness that IN THE 
STRUGGLE ADVANTAGES WIN. The Commission of Justice and Peace takes this from, 
again, the Centesimus Annus . A “fruitful harmony” occurs when “deviations are corrected, the courage to work for what is good is reinforced” (Centesimus annus #25). This requires REALISM. In other words we need to recognize how the human “is also capable of evil”. So the Pope adds that the stability of the social order emerges when we takes this fact of human capacity for evil into account. Knowing that we too can opt for evil, we can be vigilant--and do our best--NOT TO PLACE IN OPPOSITION “personal interest and the interests of society as a whole” and society “seeks ways to bring them into fruitful harmony". (See Centesimus annus #25). 

9. Corruption thrives when conscience is numbed. So the basic strategy proposed by the 
commission is in the moral order and "the moral education and formation of citizens". The Church herself "can cultivate and promote the moral resources that will help to build a 'human ecology' in which corruption will not find an hospitable habitat". This is where the competence of the Church lies: the formation of conscience. Form conscience so that people in society build a "human ecology" of truth. The big challenge for the Church is the promotion of moral resources for a "human ecology" where corruption cannot thrive. 

10. Corruption is UNTRUTH. It implies maneuvering relationships, hidden and dark relationships marked by cheating, blackmailing, threats, obscure agreements. All these run against human dignity and moral conscience. The FIGHT against corruption is, itself a VALUE and that corruption IS AN EVIL. We need “to think of the fight against corruption as a value, and also as a need” and we need to see “that corruption is an evil” (The Fight against corruption #9). Indeed corruption is costly. As evil it has the tendency to cross limits; to think that the serpent in the Garden of Eden is correct. The serpent announced that human limits are a curse. But as we have said in class, the limits implied in the command “do not eat from that tree” (see Genesis 2/16-17 & 18) are a blessing because they allow for life-adventure. 

11. Concretely, based on a moral conscience, two steps can be made. Expose corruption and punish the guilty. Ethical people and groups should never tolerate corruption. The commission gives its views on the relationship between Western rich countries and the poorer developing countries and how the poorer countries must work to move more into a democratic system with a more free media and remove the domination of the oligarchy. To discuss these will require more space (and competence). So let us limit ourselves to what we say above. 

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