School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

Confronting Ubiquitous Corruption

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Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Ethics in Religion | Religion


Corruption is the abuse of power for private gain, and its moral essence is the serving of a relationship of trust. It occurs in both government and business, with annual global costs of more that US$2.6 trillion, appearing more frequently in government, typically with the active cooperation of businesses in bribery or extortion. Governmental efforts to reduce corruption (a UN convention and national laws making the bribery of a foreign government official illegal) have made progress. Recent efforts by the Catholic Church also hold out promise. Nonetheless, the scourge of corruption remains real in every nation of the world. In this article I briefly describe the forms and moral character of ubiquitous corruption, distinguish bribery from morally appropriate gifts in reciprocity, identify the need for economic agents to take responsibility for the morality of organizations to which they do not belong, provide an overview of the costs of corruption, and outline some current efforts to reduce corruption.


Special issue on Corruption, edited by Regina Ammicht Quinn, Luiz Carlos Susin, and Lisa Cahill.

This issue was also printed as a book by SCM Press – find this book in a library.