Intergenerational Solidarity, Welfare and Human Ecology


Plenary Session 29 April-3 May 2004 – This week we mark our tenth anniversary with our first Plenary Session on intergenerational solidarity. Partly in response to concern about the looming crisis of the welfare state in many places, we asked the speakers and commentators to focus primarily on the challenges posed by the fact that changing relations between generations have placed increasing strain on every society’s capacity to provide for the needs of the very young, the frail elderly, and the severely ill or disabled. In so doing, we heeded the Holy Father's reminder when he first addressed us ten years ago that the very raison d’être of social programs ‘should be protection of the weakest’.
Our aim this week is to move well beyond standard debates over the ‘welfare crisis’. For underlying the welfare crisis is a deeper crisis of meanings and values. Changes in family behavior are fueling, and being fueled by, changes in ideas about dependency, the human person, and family life that have far-reaching implications for the human prospect – for the world’s experiments in self-government, for the health of economies, for human rights, and for the future of our social and natural environments. By lifting up the concept of ‘solidarity’ we seek to challenge solutions based on conflict models that are grounded in flawed concepts of man and society. With our reference to ‘ecology’ we signal that we will be searching for ways to shift probabilities in favor of keeping the human person at the center of concern. Our hope for this conference is that we will emerge not only with a better understanding of the questions, but with a set of conclusions that will serve as springboards for continued exploration of this subject in future meetings and study groups.

Mary Ann Glendon


H.E. Amb. Hanna Suchocka
Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans Tietmeyer
Prof. Wilfrido V. Villacorta
Prof. Bedrich Vymetalík
Prof. Hans F. Zacher
Prof. Jerzy B. Zubrzycki
Prof. Paulus Zulu
Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner
Mr. Cornelius G. Fetsch
Dr. Martin Strimitzer
H.E. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
H.E. Cardinal Bernard Francis Law
Prof. Francis Fukuyama
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
H.E. Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela
Prof. Jacques Vallin
H.E. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
Prof. Giovanni Conso
Prof. Sue Richardson
Prof. Roland Ris
Dr. Carlos Martínez Sotomayor


Intergenerational Solidarity, Welfare and Human Ecology

Tenth Plenary Session, 29 April-3 May 2004 Acta 10, ed. M.A. Glendon Vatican City, 2004 pp.... Read more

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