Is the Vatican really calling for a ‘World Bank’?
A few weeks ago, October 24, 2011, members of the mainstream media reported on a Vatican document. They invariably spin any document coming from the Vatican one way or the other, depending on whether or not it conforms to a liberal viewpoint. The latest episode occurred when the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issued its ponderously titled “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary System in the Context of Global Public Authority.”
The headlines announcing “The Vatican Calls for a World Bank” misrepresented the document itself and ignored the fact that it in no way represented an authoritative statement of Church teaching. The next step in the media comment was, of course, to link the release of the document with the Occupy Wall Street movement which was just beginning to gain momentum.
Those who comment responsibly and knowledgeably on Vatican matters did what they always do — publish their corrective columns the following day, explaining how a document from a particular Vatican council should not be misrepresented by the American media as something akin to the papal encyclical. But, by then, the damage is usually done. One of these columns, however, appeared only a few days ago and deserves our attention at Catholic Advocate.Writing on his blog at the American Interest, the famed sociologist of religion Peter Berger asks, “Is the Vatican about to Occupy Wall Street?” His commentary is the work of someone in total command of the history and politics of both the Vatican and Catholics in the U.S.
Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite to read the rest:
“Iustitia et Pax [Justice and Peace] is an agency within the Roman Curia, presently headed by an African cardinal, Peter Turkson from Ghana. It is generally regarded as a sort of leftist lobby within the complex bureaucratic labyrinth of the Curia. Its utterances are definitely not to be taken as authoritative statements of the papacy. Indeed, on the very day that this document was published, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi stated that the document is not a papal statement—in his words, “not an expression of papal magisterium.” One may imagine that the present pope, Benedict XVI, was eager to create distance between himself and the document, which Catholics are free to disagree with. All the same, Iustitia et Pax has a significant constituency in the Catholic world, and its statements have potential consequences.
“Much in the document is not new. After every few sentences there is a reference to a papal encyclical or some other prior expression of Catholic teaching, with which the document is supposed to be in accord. (This is standard practice: The Catholic Church never admits to saying anything really new, even when it does. Each new statement is to be seen as emerging logically from a long line of previous statements.) There are some rather moderate recommendations, which have been made by others—such as taxes on financial transactions to create a “world reserve fund” for troubled economies, or special regulations for the “shadow markets” created by obscure financial instruments. But the truly novel recommendation by Iustitia et Pax is for the creation of a “supranational authority” to regulate the global economy.”here—probably that the process to set up the world government should start with negotiations at the United Nations.”
“But its [the Justice and Peace document] analysis of the current situation is pure neo-Marxism: All our problems are due to the financial predators headquartered on Wall Street and the “neo-liberal” intellectuals who legitimize them. There is no understanding at all of the fact that millions of people have been lifted from degrading poverty to a decent level of material life by, precisely, “neo-liberal” economic policies. As to the most novel recommendation of the document, its call for world government to be negotiated at the United Nations, this would be a grotesque disaster if it were ever successful. Fortunately, its chances of success are nil.”
“The capitalist economy should not be rejected because of some predatory capitalists, any more than democracy should be rejected because of some corrupt or (in this case) foolish politicians. Iustitia et Pax can be blamed for a faulty diagnosis and a disastrous prescription. It will encourage a revival of the Catholic Left, which will do nothing to solve our current problems and only suggest solutions that would make them worse.”
Read the entire article by Peter Berger here.
In addition, news out of Rome this morning gives a behind-the-scenes look at the fall out from the document being issued. The website Chiesa reports Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone had not seen the document until the eleventh hour.
In the days since the document was published, meetings have been held in the Vatican establishing a review and approval process for materials coming out of the Holy See:
“The conclusion of the summit was that this binding order would be transmitted to all of the offices of the curia: from that point on, nothing in writing would be released unless it had been inspected and authorized by the secretariat of state.”
Non-Catholics and probably even a large majority of faithful Catholics do not understand the minutia of the weight behind the various type of documents issued by the Vatican. All they hear is “Vatican issues…” It appears in this case, and maybe others, there was an internal vetting process breakdown inside the Vatican.