Exclusion of God and religion from public life has contributed to a host of contemporary social problems — including the current financial crisis.

That’s the assessment delivered by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, in a Sept. 30 speech at a conference in Rome sponsored by the Aspen Institue.

Discussing the relationship of politics and religion in the age of globalization, Cardinal Bertone said, “I am convinced that politics is necessary, but I believe that, to communicate genuine values, it must respect the ‘bridge’ that unites each of these values with God.”

Without that bridge of transcendence, Cardinal Bertone said, politics loses sight of the common good and focuses instead on selfish, short-term goals.

The negative consequences of that approach can be seen in a variety of contemporary problems, including the “present financial crisis,” he said.

Said Cardinal Bertone, “Wherever one’s own benefit is sought in the short term, virtually identifying that with the good, one ends up by canceling one’s own benefit.”

— Tom McFeely