Visit of Prof. Gerhard Kruip to the Czech Republic
On 9 October 2014, German Social Ethicist Gerhard Kruip, of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, gave a public lecture on the topic ‘New Challenges for Social Justice Today – Europeanisation and Globalisation’ at the Municipal Library of Prague. The public lecture was organized by the Working Group for Social Questions of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Czech Republic. More than half of the audience comprised interested members of the public.
According to Prof. Kruip, at the political level, responsibility for the delivery of social justice is regarded as primarily a matter for nation states. However, processes of Europeanisation and globalisation are increasingly leading to the need to discuss social justice at the supra-national (international and global) level. Potentially, this may change the nature of political discourse and policy on this issue.
In the first part of his lecture, Prof. Kruip emphasised that, for Christians, social justice is a priority. In the second part of his lecture he briefly treated the development of the social teaching of the Church, under the mentioned aspect of globalisation. In the third part of Kruip’s lecture he pointed out that nation states alone are currently not able to guarantee a sufficient and socially just measure, but are dependent upon international cooperation in order to do so. In the fourth and final part of his lecture, Prof. Kruip described two initiatives that could serve as examples of international efforts for social justice and for which it is possible to imagine the complexity associated with their enforcement, namely the system of a guaranteed unconditional basic income for every citizen, and European-wide unemployment benefit assistance.
The lecture was accompanied by a heated debate over the role of the Church in these efforts, but also of the weaknesses of European politics in the Czech Republic. Debates about the merits of such supra-national initiatives are examples of international cooperation in the field of Christian theological ethics that should definitely continue.
Jaroslav Lorman teaches theological ethics in the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University, Prague.