Pope Benedict goes to #OWS

Andrew Medichini AP Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges cheers upon his arrival in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican … Continued

Andrew Medichini


Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges cheers upon his arrival in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican to hold a pre-trip prayer service for the Catholic faithful, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011.

Pope Benedict did not physically go to the Occupy Wall Street Protest (OWS), but the Vatican did the next best thing by issuing a document against Capitalist greed. “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority,” (in English translation has been described as “far to the left of almost any politician in the United States (short of Sen. Bernie Sanders)” Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, commented that the Church will hold: “…other institutions in society to accountability if they are not achieving or not helping us live peacefully or well.”

Citing three popes (John XXIII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI), the document applies the papal teaching on social justice to the current global financial crisis. The Vatican comes to the conclusion that there is need for a supranational authority like the United Nations to be approved by the G20 group of nations so that the world would have “a public Authority with universal jurisdiction; as a first stage in a longer effort by the global community to steer its institutions towards achieving the common good.”

This Vatican document is an expression of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It serves as the Church’s practical moral guide to the political solution of the global financial crisis. Bishop Mario Toso, a Council official confessed that the measures proposed to address the crisis had a political ring because they “appear to be in line with the slogans and proposals” of the “indignados,” a Spanish movement with important similarities to the Occupy Wall Street protests. But while the document has political consequences, it sticks to the overriding task of identifying what is right and wrong about the various proposals to remedy this pressing problem. The question to be faced is whether any financial measure benefits the common welfare of all humanity or just increases profits for the few.

This erudite document requires a prospective reader to be aware of some technical terms. First, note that the terms “liberalist” and “economic liberalism” are taken from a European context. They refer to laissez-faire Capitalism which rejects government intervention into the working of “the market.” In other words, the Vatican rejects the solutions being offered by most conservative Republicans who urge home foreclosure, bankruptcy for the auto-industry, an end to environmental regulations to be lifted, and repeal of financial oversight laws (Dodd-Frank. Citing Blessed John Paul II, the document notes that believing in the automatic solution of “the market” to today’s problems is a new form of idolatry.

Second, the document attacks the notion that governmental policies that benefit individuals will somehow provide for the common welfare. The Vatican calls versions of trickle-down economics à la Ayn Rand to be “utilitarianism” and therefore reprehensible.

Third, Catholics and people of good will are summoned to the task of shifting political discourse and cultural perceptions towards acceptance of this supranational authority. This is not a dreamy-eyed utopian view of change, but a summons to abandon the political clichés of greed and isolationism. (“Cut taxes on job creators” and “Defund the U.N.”)

The Vatican fosters the twin concerns of solidarity – oneness with the poor the world over – and subsidiarity – the need for grass-roots action. There should be international financial norms and an agency to enforce its policies of solidarity, but a simultaneous response from the people to force their local governments to recast legislative priorities in conformity with global human needs. The two dimensions work together: after stating the internationalist goals “the higher Authority offers its subsidium, that is, its aid, only when individual, social or financial actors are intrinsically deficient in capacity, or cannot manage by themselves to do what is required of them,” with the result that “citizens make their decisions with a view to the global common good, which transcends national goods.”

Predictably, right-wing dissident views against Vatican teaching come from the likes of William Donohue who erroneously claims on radio shows with Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs that subsidiarity limits the beginning of financial reform to “the most local level.” Ignoring how subsidiarity is joined to solidarity, this flirtation with heresy would forever silence Rome. Catholic America, however, takes the Vatican seriously.

  • usapdx

    What ever happened to the TENTH COMMANDMENT? The Vatican wants to speak to the world as the church but it is a nation too. As a nation, what right does it have in telling other nations how to act in their econmics? It be great interest to the world to see the Vatican’s books on it’s worth and where their assets are. Christ never wanted His church to be a nation to put others outside the Vatican’s borders off limits and or to be a econmic power within it’s own rights. The Vatican needs to get it’s own house in order.

  • lorimakesquilts

    This might carry some weight if the catholic church wasn’t one of the 1% itself. You don’t see it lining up to be taxed, prosecuted for crimes, or giving back to the community but a tiny fraction of it’s assets.

  • Pagina123

    If reduced to a worldly organization, the Catholic Church is the greatest service body in the world. They take care of more of the poor, sick, and terminally ill than any other organization or country. There are 100,000s of men and women who have given their lives to serve the least in the world, the ones that even the biggest socialist nations won’t touch. I would say they give 100 to 1 for what they receive in donations.

  • Pagina123

    What right, as a nation, does the Vatican have to tell other nations what to do? Are you kidding? The US doesn’t it every single day. Why do you think an embassy exists? In this case, however, the Vatican is not acting as a nation, but rather as a spiritual voice in a sea of materialism. The document does not put forth practical remedies like an economist would, but rather speaks as a spiritual guide, not as a nation.

    I also noticed that your comment does not even consider the content of the document, but rather focuses on various fallacies. The most obvious: one is not allowed to speak the truth if one has problems of his own. If we followed this fallacy than nobody would be entitled to speak.

    I hope that you will read the document and open to it’s content instead of hold fast to the fallacies that you have against the Church.