Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Benedict XVI and the Economy of Communion (Part 1)

Interview with Business Owner John Mundell

By Genevieve Pollock

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, SEPT. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- People are searching for meaning in work, ways to aid people and the environment while earning profits, and Benedict XVI is pointing the way, says an Economy of Communion member.

John Mundell is the president and founder of Mundell and Associates, an environmental consulting company based in Indianapolis.

In this interview with ZENIT, he explained some reasons why Benedict XVI incorporated the Economy of Communion, a growing worldwide business network, into his latest encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate."

Part 2 will be published Wednesday.

ZENIT: What are some of the basic tenets of the Economy of Communion?

Mudell: To understand the Economy of Communion, one has to begin to understand what the word "communion" means in the vocabulary of the Catholic Church, and what a spirituality that includes communion implies.

How do we live as "church" or as united people, and what does that mean? How does this fit into the message and mission of Jesus?

As one begins to understand this, the fundamental basis for the Economy of Communion, the rest begins to follow as a natural outgrowth.

The Economy of Communion was born from an idea that arose within the Focolare Movement and its founder, Chiara Lubich, in 1991 when she was visiting Brazil and the local Focolare community there.

The previous week she had been reading John Paul II's encyclical "Centesimus Annus," a reflection on the hundred years after Pope Leo XIII's first social encyclical of the Church.

Chiara was particularly interested in the topic of the Church's involvement in the social sphere of the world. As well, as she came to Brazil she had been made aware of the needs of the poor present in the local Focolare community. Our community down there had people who were well-off, but also had people who were suffering and needed help with food, education and shelter.

What Chiara saw is that, despite the Focolare practicing a communion of goods over the 50 years of its history at that time, despite the individual efforts to share and help those in need within our own community, we still fell short, and so something else needed to be done.

Thus the idea was born of starting businesses that could operate, share profits and help the needy associated with the community.

From 1991, this movement began to spread across the Focolare world, and 18 years later we have over 750 businesses involved in the Economy of Communion.


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