Creation of a just and sustainable model of economic development will require radical cultural change

NEWS RELEASE Friday, 29 October 2010


Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice


Creation of a just and sustainable model of economic development will require radical cultural change, says Jesuit theologian

The creation of a new economic paradigm, with a focus on sustainability and fairness, will require a radical turning away from prevailing values and culture, says Jesuit priest, Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, theologian and staff member of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.

In a second of a two-part article on the theme, “A New Economic Paradigm?”, published in Working Notes,* the journal of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Fr O’Hanlon says we may be more ready to consider radical change if we acknowledge that the dominant economic model of the recent past was “both unconscionable and against our own interests.” It was unconscionable, he says, “because of its injustice, both globally and nationally”, including the inter-generational injustice inherent in the degradation of the environment. And it was against our self-interest because it did not make us happy.

Fr O’Hanlon notes that many commentators and institutions, in Ireland and elsewhere, are now putting forward practical proposals to chart a way out of economic recession and towards a type of economic development that is balanced, sustainable and just. Starting from the premise that a ‘recovery’ based on ever-expanding consumption is neither feasible nor desirable, many of these proposals highlight the need to develop a different way of measuring economic progress. Such alternative measures would take account of the social and environmental damage caused by some forms of economic activity and at the same time give explicit recognition to factors that are integral to real progress but which are not currently counted in the calculation of GDP.

Fr O’Hanlon argues that it will require “deep reserves of meaning to face into the prospect of a more frugal, but also more just and sustainable, future”. He points out that Christianity is one such reservoir of meaning and that it can be “a powerful source of inspiration” in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a source which, through the efforts of committed Christians, “can be of great service to the body politic”.

He concludes by arguing that we should not “waste” the current crisis but rather use it as an opportunity to “do more thinking and talking beyond the parameters of conventional economic models”.


For media queries and to interview Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, please contact:

Eoin Carroll, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice

Mob: 087 225 0793; Tel: 01 855 6814

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




*Working Notes is published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and is available at Click here to access the article by Gerry O'Hanlon in the October Issue of Working Notes.

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice is a non-profit organisation working with and on behalf of those suffering injustice or disadvantage in society. Through social analysis and reflection the Centre is a catalyst for positive social change.


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