Social Catholic Teaching and 2030 Agenda – Two sides of the same coin?

Part III: Agenda 2030 – Trojan Horse for the State and companies to become «moral authorities»?

The 2030 Agenda has an undeniable state-run character since it is originated by States and supranational organizations. However, the global nature of the agenda also puts the focus on the private sector, with companies being key players in its implementation. Having analyzed in the two previous articles the different anthropological bases and the specific objectives that conflict with the Magisterium, in this article we will look deeper into the role that the State and corporates should have in social life in comparison to the approach offered by the UN SDGs.

The 2030 Agenda is based on a consensus decided by the heads of state, which is not necessarily bad. For a consensus or action voted by majorities to be recognized and respected, it must promote essential human and moral values which, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states «derive from the very truth of the human being and which express and protect the dignity of the person«[1].  These values are not based on consensus or majorities that can modify or destroy them but are simply recognized and respected as elements of an objective moral law. The problem arises when the majority or consensus chooses to carry out an action that is contrary to these «human values» and is contrary to the natural law. There are several historical examples of consensuses that have changed over time. While slavery was widely accepted and even legally protected in the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States, it was not morally right because it was consensual. Therefore, an action is not good because it is consensual, but because it conforms «to the dignity of the human person and to the dictates of right reason«[2]. On the Day of Peace in 2009, Benedict XVI stressed the importance of a moral law that acts as an anchor: « a ‘common code of ethics’ is needed, whose norms are not merely the fruit of agreements, but are rooted in the natural law inscribed by the Creator in the conscience of every human being «[3].

As we have seen in previous articles, the 2030 Agenda conflicts in some of its approaches with the dignity of the person. Additionally, if we consider what was stated in the previous paragraph, one might wonder: are States becoming the «moral authority»? Does it make sense that they become promoters and impose certain ideologies on the individual consciences of citizens?

From a business perspective, companies and especially large corporations play a very important role in the implementation of the Agenda (as already announced in the resolution of adoption of the Agenda[4]). As of today, there are many companies that have adopted, if not all, some SDGs as a pillar of their corporate strategy. We can also see a proliferation of investment funds focused on meeting the SDGs without (apparently) understanding the full implications of the SDGs.

These investment funds invest in companies that impose moral criteria on their stakeholders. One of the most striking recent cases is the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 where 14 states banned the practice of abortion in their territories. This situation triggered a wave of publicly traded companies that modified their internal policies to cover the costs of their employees’ travel to other states to facilitate the access to abortion.

All in all, we are seeing how, progressively but at an increasing speed, companies and states are using their social positioning to become moral «authorities» that determine how society should act in certain situations. This fact raises questions in the consciences of faithful investors:

– Does it make sense to invest in companies that cooperate openly and directly with abortion?

– Should the investment world simply surrender to consensus?

– To what extent does it make sense to invest in companies with positions contrary to natural law? 

– Is authority above morality?


[1] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 2019, p. 199 (n.394).

[2] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 2019, p. 201 (n.398).

[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Message pf his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the celebration of the World Day of Peace 1 january 2009, The Holy See, 2009, n.8, Vatican Publishing House. Available at: https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20081208_xlii-world-day-peace.html

[4] UN, Draft resolution referred to the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda by the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session. ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, 2016, p.3. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/generalassembly/docs/globalcompact/A_RES_70_1_E.pdf

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