THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: In what is sure to anger Laissez-Faire Capitalists, irritate international Socialists, and drive American Evangelicals hysterical; a small and obscure Vatican commission today released a non-binding and non-doctrinal proposal calling for the creation of a new global financial order, that would help to regulate and control the excesses and inequalities of the current world monetary system....
(CNS) -- A Vatican document called for the gradual creation of a world political authority with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in the "inequalities and distortions of capitalist development."The document itself is likely to be ignored by leaders in the international community, especially in Europe and America, where large corporations and banks are content to leave things exactly the way they are. Not that it really matters, since the document itself is a single commission proposal, which is not part of the magisterial teaching of the Church. It is simply a "note" from one office within the Vatican. It carries no ecclesiastical 'weight' and is designed to be absorbed into a larger, more comprehensive, document later on. The wording may be changed, and some portions may end up being deleted all together. In other words, this 'note' is just a small flexible part of a much larger work in progress.
The document said the current global financial crisis has revealed "selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale." A supranational authority, it said, is needed to place the common good at the center of international economic activity.
The 41-page text was titled, "Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority." Prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, it was released Oct. 24 in several languages, including a provisional translation in English.
The document cited the teachings of popes over the last 40 years on the need for a universal public authority that would transcend national interests. The current economic crisis, which has seen growing inequality between the rich and poor of the world, underlines the necessity to take concrete steps toward creating such an authority, it said.
One major step, it said, should be reform of the international monetary system in a way that involves developing countries. The document foresaw creation of a "central world bank" that would regulate the flow of monetary exchanges; it said the International Monetary Fund had lost the ability to control the amount of credit risk taken on by the system...
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The contentious point of the document, receiving so much media fanfare, but so few direct quotes as to what it actually says is as follows...
A supranational Authority of this kind should have a realistic structure and be set up gradually. It should be favourable to the existence of efficient and effective monetary and financial systems; that is, free and stable markets overseen by a suitable legal framework, well-functioning in support of sustainable development and social progress of all, and inspired by the values of charity and truth. It is a matter of an Authority with a global reach that cannot be imposed by force, coercion or violence, but should be the outcome of a free and shared agreement and a reflection of the permanent and historic needs of the world common good.This comes following the most honest assessment ever seen on the causes of the international financial/economic crisis that rocked the world in 2008 and continues with us today. The Vatican is attempting to lead other nations to own up to the fact that the current financial order is corrupt, and that current regulatory methods are not fixing the problem. If anything they are making them worse, and because of this, another financial catastrophe (far worse than 2008) awaits us in the near future.
The document released today emphasizes the need to follow the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. This means that problems should be dealt with from the bottom up, not the top down. It is consistent with the papal encyclicals of the last century, and in no way called for an authoritarian 'New World Order' as some have suggested. Quite to the contrary, the document calls for the voluntary creation of better financial/economic regulating authorities, which implies such things do not currently exist. That by definition excludes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is criticised directly, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations. Clearly what the document calls for is something new and different, that is not based on the corrupted status quo. It gives no specific details beyond this.
The document IS NOT a call to a 'New World Order' or a 'Centralised Banking System.' It is a call to a new way of regulating international commerce, but it is NOT a call to creating a 'One World Global Government.' Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but you're hyperventilating over nothing. If anything, the Vatican is trying to move the world AWAY from a centralised world tyranny.
Like Rerum Novarum in 1891, and all the papal social encyclicals since then, this is likely to be ignored by the leaders in Europe and America, to the detriment of the third-world and even middle to low income people in Europe and America themselves. (Right now it seems the only people hyperventilating about this are some conservative Catholics, Evangelicals and a few secular conspiracy theorists.)
Because our leaders have ignored papal teaching on social justice (or perverted it to suite their own template), the world will continue to languish in economic depravity, oscillating between the 'gods' of capitalism and socialism, until finally the whole thing implodes into a worldwide economic catastrophe. Only then, after the world has been left in financial ruin, will some wise European monarch take up the banner of the Church and actually begin to implement this stuff she has been preaching about for the last 120 years!
To understand this document, it must be put into the full context of a century of papal teaching. To interpret the document in a vacuum, as the news media often does, is to distort what it means. So what does it mean? Well you can read the document and decide for yourself. I've provided a link below to the full text. Before you do however, you need a primer on Catholic Social Justice. So here is the short-version gist of it...
Catholics cannot be Socialists. This is clearly taught by the Church. By the same token however, and perhaps in a more profound way, Catholics cannot be Capitalists either! (When I say 'Capitalists' here I mean the Austrian School of Economics embraced by Neoconservatives and Libertarians.) No honest reading of the Gospels, or the Church's social encyclicals, can produce a Socialist or Capitalist outlook. Both philosophies must be rejected by the Christian mind, or else bow to the altars of man we will, instead of the one true altar of Christ.
The Church has made her social teachings clear in both the Catechism and papal encyclicals. Great Catholic thinkers, such as G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, gave us the philosophical framework for how to apply these encyclicals to modern economics. They called this new way of thinking DISTRIBUTISM, which was an outright rejection of Capitalism and Socialism. For if Capitalism is a wound on the proper economic social order, than Socialism is just a band-aid, and not a very good one at that. The economic social order must be reconstructed in the image of the Gospel, and while that will most certainly not produce a perfect world, it will most certainly make things better than they are. You can read more about Distributism at The Distributist Review.
Until then however, I do hope you will join me in thanking Pope Benedict XVI for his wise instruction through the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and join me in storing the document in safe keeping until that day when a great monarch will one day implement it. We should do this while we prepare for the onslaught of mockery we will soon get from the Capitalist elite, the frustration we will hear from the international Socialists who will say it doesn't go far enough, and the hysterical "end of the world" rantings of American Evangelicals who will soon tell us the pope is the Antichrist. I have already read the ramblings of some bloggers and comments made on Internet forums. This document will certainly result in a whole new round of Anti-Catholicism in the Western world, particularly in the United States.
You can read the FULL TEXT of the Vatican document HERE.