The National Catholic Review

From CNS with link to full text of the document here:

VATICAN CITY — 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 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.

The document also proposed:

– Taxation measures on financial transactions. Revenues could contribute to the creation of a “world reserve fund” to support the economies of countries his by crisis, it said.

– Forms of recapitalization of banks with public funds that make support conditional on “virtuous” behavior aimed at developing the real economy.

– More effective management of financial “shadow markets” that are largely uncontrolled today.

Such moves would be designed to make the global economy more responsive to the needs of the person, and less “subordinated to the interests of countries that effectively enjoy a position of economic and financial advantage,” it said.

In making the case for a global authority, the document said the continued model of nationalistic self-interest seemed “anachronistic and surreal” in the age of globalization.

“We should not be afraid to propose new ideas, even if they might destabilize pre-existing balances of power that prevail over the weakest,” it said.

The “new world dynamics,” it said, call for a “gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities.”

“In a world on its way to rapid globalization, the reference to a world authority becomes the only horizon compatible with the new realities of our time and the needs of humankind,” it said. Helping to usher in this new society is a duty for everyone, especially for Christians, it said.  --CNS


david power | 10/26/2011 - 3:35pm
Matt, It is locally known by the more biting of critics as "Our Lady of the Angles". :)
Matthew Pettigrew | 10/26/2011 - 2:03pm
I apologize for straying from the topic, but Crystal's comment about the new cathedral in Los Angeles made me curious, so I Googled it. With all due respect to the designers and decision-makers, and with full recognition that my opinion is worth no more than anyone else's opinion, that, to my untrained eye, is an unattractive building.
Gabriel Marcella | 10/26/2011 - 1:26pm
At the risk of beating a dead horse, Professor Richard Garnett of Notre Dame's Shool of Law and the head blogger of Mirror of Justice has a lot to say on this (at:

"There can be no doubt ...that it is entirely appropriate for the call attention to economic and social problems, to remind persons of good will of the content and foundations of Christian humanism, to challenge governments and persons alike to act in ways that are consistent with morality and truth about the human person, and to share well-considered judgments or suggestions rega????rding sound policy."

MARY JO LILLY | 10/26/2011 - 9:16am
Why The "provisional" English translation?  Need it await approval by Vox Clara?
Crystal Watson | 10/26/2011 - 2:48am
Thanks, Anne.  That's really a shame.
Anne Chapman | 10/25/2011 - 8:29pm
Crystal, @30

A bit off topic, but since you brought it up - Not only did the LA cathedral cost a literal large fortune, the diocese announced right after its opening that it was laying off 60 of its staff and closing or cutting a number of ministries due to budget deficits (purely coincidental, of course - nothing to do with the cost of the Cathedral).

There had long been a desire on the part of some for a new cathedral to replace the original one.  Earthquake damage to the old cathedral provided an excuse - the cost of building new would be less than fixing the old (allegedly) and bringing it up to earthquake codes.  But nobody was a bit surprised when the Cathedral ended up costing a great deal more than the way-off-estimate used to justify selling St. Vibiana's, the beautiful, old historic Cathedral.  

Los Angeles Times, Sept. 19, 2002: The cuts will eliminate at least 60 jobs in the archdiocese's headquarters in the Mid-Wilshire district. ....
The cuts will cause some programs to be eliminated while others-including such popular outreach programs as marriage encounter retreats-have been ordered to heavily cut the number of workers. ...The Department of Religious Education has also been told to cut back.
The archdiocese confirmed that eight headquarters programs are being shut down: the Office of Ministry With Persons With Disabilities; the Detention Ministry, which works with those in jail; Campus Ministry; Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs; Ethnic Groups Ministry; Ministry With Lesbian and Gay Catholics; the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women; and the Office of Respect Life, which runs counseling services for women who have had abortions and advocacy programs that oppose abortion and euthanasia.
Stanley Kopacz | 10/25/2011 - 8:28pm
Well, the Vatican is right in acknowledging the fact of human activity changing the world's climate system for the worse.  As far as international finance is concerned, it's not like it's the motion of tectonic plates.  It's a human activity and can be regulated to some extent.  To talk in terms I can understand, a steam engine blows up if it is unregulated, a person is crazy if he or she doesn't regulate their self.  Self-regulation keeps things in balance.  So this big economic behemoth is supposed to be unregulated?  I think not.
Crystal Watson | 10/25/2011 - 7:11pm
And PS - church  cathedrals and the Vatican museums are not public buildings.
Crystal Watson | 10/25/2011 - 7:09pm
Yes, I am speaking in part of the art work at the Vatican museums, as well as the money spent on buildings - for instnace, read the wikipedia page on Our Lady of the Angels cathedral in Los Angeles.  Here's a bit about the cost of the furnishings ...

'The prices for some cathedral furnishings have also caused consternation. $5 million was budgeted for the altar, the main bronze doors cost $3 million, $2 million was budgeted for the wooden ambo (lectern) and $1 million for the tabernacle. $1 million was budgeted for the cathedra (bishop's chair), $250,000 for the presider's chair, $250,000 for each deacon's chair, and $150,000 for each visiting bishops' chair, while pews cost an average of $50,000 each. The cantor's stand cost $100,000 while each bronze chandelier/speaker cost $150,000.'

 Should some of the art be sold?  Yes, I think so, to other museums.  Most of the art owned by the Vatican isn't on display and wouldn't even really be missed.  I think there's a belief that all the art is Christian and  devotional and must be kept  as some kind of Christian patrimony, but a lot of the art at the Vatican museums isn't Christian, but Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Asian, etc.  Jesus said sell your possessions and give the money to the poor - he didn't say build huge cathderals or fund art museums  :)
Gabriel McAuliffe | 10/25/2011 - 6:57pm
The amount of invective oozing from the comment boxes is rancid.
Robert Riley | 11/26/2011 - 11:51am
In the face of the failing current U.S. economic model of neoliberalism (the "free market" will solve everything, even if the wealthy keep getting wealthier and the heck with the rest), this publication from the Vatican Commission is welcome indeed.  Even back in the 60's, the late Pope Paul VI warned of the dangers of the global capitalism system as practiced.  The U.S. business and finance goals of "profit and wealth accumulation" as "gods" are becoming ever more destructive to national and global justice, not to mention the natural environment upon which all life on Earth depends.  The issue isn't really whether or not the commission's specific solutions are best - but instead it is urgent and essential that all possible solutions be explored (and enforced globally) to make economic systems be SECONDARY to human and ecological health considerations.  The "god"of personal wealth accumulation needs to be taken down in our hearts and replaced with universal compassion, and all political and economic systems be redesigned from that vantage point.
Anonymous | 10/25/2011 - 6:22pm
Come on Crystal!  The wealth hoarded by the Church?  Are you aluding artwork and historic artifacts and the historic buildings?  Would you suggest that the Church sell this ''wealth'' in order to help the poor?  Sell it to whom?  Give me a break!

Maybe New York City and Chicago should sell their public buildings and public museums so that they can feed the poor also?
Vince Killoran | 10/25/2011 - 4:33pm
I agree with your comments Crystal.  I don't think the Church has been an example when it comes to being on the right side of workers' rights but often obstructing their own employees organizing rights.
Crystal Watson | 10/25/2011 - 3:47pm
I am concerned about the poor and do think the church should pose options to help them, it's just that I don't think the Vatican is a very good example in this area:  the wealth hoarded by the church belies the idea of world-shared resources, and the way the Vatican has run its own bank is less than exemplary. 
Vince Killoran | 10/25/2011 - 3:02pm
I really like this line from Pope Benedict XVI: Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church's social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations[12].

It's too bad that the first reaction by some is to squirm when they read Church documents on the economy and proclaim that they are not binding (and that they are not the work of experts).

Read, think, discuss, read again. Don't be so quick to play canon lawyer. As Joe Kash points out, the full document is not even available. 

Anonymous | 10/25/2011 - 2:42pm
Andrew Russell:  One cannot debate the document on its merits because it is not available to read in its entirety.  Once this document is available everyone can read the whole document so that the word, context and author can be taken into consideration.  Until then all is speculation.  Also remember that pope Benedict has three encyclicals which are authoritative.  In his most recent encyclical he says this:

The Church does not have technical solutions to offer[10] and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States.”[11] She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation. Without truth, it is easy to fall into an empiricist and sceptical view of life, incapable of rising to the level of praxis because of a lack of interest in grasping the values — sometimes even the meanings — with which to judge and direct it. Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church's social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations[12].
Andrew Russell | 10/25/2011 - 2:29pm
I agree with Robert Nunz above.  Lets debate the document on its merits.  There are some who object to a universal / global authority regulating the market.  But, what is it that should regulate the market?  Doing nothing is not an option!  We will be judged by what we did to help the poor, not what we avoided doing because we had a personal aversion to it.  It is therefore our responsibility as Christians to ensure that the Market represents our values.  Currently it does not represent my Catholic, Christian values. 
THOMAS FARRELLY | 10/25/2011 - 1:22pm
Ah, a universal authority that would transcend national interests, a “central world bank” that would regulate the flow of monetary exchanges.  One wonders who are the members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and whether these Papal
Paul Volckers have any relevant experience, or for that matter any understanding of
the low esteem enjoyed by such super-national organizations as the UN and the EU.

The world will ignore this document of course, but it makes me sad that as the Church declines and priests are becoming  a disappearing species there are people in the Vatican who spend their time on such silly exercises.
ROBERT NUNZ MR | 10/25/2011 - 12:55pm
I thought the point was to address moral considerations in the current economic mess with some practical approaches.
Lots of unhappiness with a broad global authority - at least by the American righ twho have  real problems with the UN.
Little substantive critique of the moral issues broached here but lots of "what do they know?" oversimplified fob offs.
I think it's a theological document  on economics and starting off with "it's a political document ...outside the expertise" is a facile way of not broaching the issues and approaches raised there.
Whether you like global authority or not, I think you need to confront the major other recommendationst herein.
Mivhael Contos | 10/25/2011 - 11:50am
Not sure how sexuality of priests got into a discussion about the ethical and moral duty for those engaged in economics, but I guess it's hard to focus on things that make us uncomfortable.

I wrote my story about L O V E  (see No 2 entry above) after reading a book by the Dalai Lama and his concern for the economic impoverishments worldwide in 1999. I seem to recall Pope John II speak on the subject also, and it had nothing to do with Republican or Democratic talking points.

Let's face it. We have a moral obligation to each other, whether or not we want to admit the downtrodden are truly our brothers and sisters. It was the poor and some of the outcasts that the great religious leaders of history sought to uplift not only in spirit but in a corporeal sharing of the common good. (Remember the loafs and fishes? He didn't try to determine where to cut costs elsewhere in order to feed those listening to the Sermon on the Mound.)

Form a committee as suggested by the Vatican to study and then report its findings to the world. Implement its recomendations and see whether compassionate minded people would take their money out of one bank (say for instance, Bank of America) and place it in one that might pay lower interests on savings, but provide more to those who are in need. That would include those who do not make enough money in the United States to even pay federal income tax and those who are fortunate enough to earn more who want altruism to be a guiding principle. I find I "need" to give to others in order to receive so much more in return.
Gabriel Marcella | 10/25/2011 - 9:14am
The document is well within the Vatican's purview and the history of previous  pronouncements on the ethics and morality of economics. Please note, for example, Rerum Novarum and the "Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor" (1891)and other encyclicals. The current document is an excellent addition to the current debate on the international financial system and should be taken seriously. It proposes a world central bank which would regulate financial exchanges, as well as a tax on financial transactions that would create a global reserve for helping countries hit hard. At a time when the world could use some new ideas, we should welcome the Vatican's proposals and debate their merits.
Anonymous | 10/24/2011 - 11:43pm
I, like the Jesuits, take Magisterial teaching very seriously.  It will be nice to read the document and to see who signs it prior to making strong statements of opinion about its content and its authority.
PJ Johnston | 10/24/2011 - 10:23pm
I didn't mean to be obscure.  It just rankles me that most of the people here who loudly insist that you need to accept what the Church teaches on gender/sexuality because of the magical magisterium ignore the same magisterium routinely when it comes to authoritative social teaching.  (There are exceptions here, such as Brett Joyce, but he might be the only one).  This particular iteration of social teaching by its own admission is not de fide, but Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus, Laborem Exercens, etc. are.  It behooves those who are critical of authoritative social teaching but beholden to teachings on gender/sexuality on the basis of their supposedly authoritative status to either admit that they're "cafeteria Catholics" just like everyone else, or else stop criticizing others for what they themselves are doing, which is picking and choosing at their convenience.  As it says in Romans 2, you have no right to condemn others on account of their sexuality because you the judge (whoever you are) are doing the same thing.
Michael Barberi | 10/24/2011 - 9:10pm
To clarify the off-subject comments.

It is not an issue of whether a celibate can have knownledge of marriage, marital acts and conjugal love. Many priests and bishops have knowledge of this subject. The issue is the degree of knownledge and the certainty that the Church's theory on marriage and sexuality is the Divine Truth. It is the moral absolute that must be accepted as the truth, without remainder, regardles if this teaching is in contradiction with the praxis and reason of most married couples. These teachings are grounded in assumptions and presuppositions that fall to persuade ther reasoned and faithful Catholic. Consider as an example, the assertion by JP II, that if married couples do not practice periodic continence as the only licit means for birth regulation, marial acts will become solely acts of lustfull pleasure and devoid of marital love.
Crystal Watson | 10/24/2011 - 7:22pm
Off subject, but one assumption made about celibates is that they had no sex lives before becoming priests.
ed gleason | 10/24/2011 - 7:21pm
An SSPX study shows that blowback from this new document will bring over to them  millions of Tea Party Catholics. maybe smaller purer is a two way street. (-:
david power | 10/24/2011 - 6:41pm

I think it is way too strong to say that celibates cannot know anything about sexuality or Gender.I have known many great Priests who have not had a whiff of prudishness about them who understood by heart the drama od sexuality.There are those who are "chaste" for the Lord and those who are "chaste" for the Church.The former are a great minority but worth their weight in gold.
Regardless, none of them know anything about economics.   
david power | 10/24/2011 - 6:22pm
I am curious as to why my previous comment was deleted.If it was for an illadvised mention of Jesus then I understand but apart from that what was wrong with it? 
PJ Johnston | 10/24/2011 - 6:20pm
Since when have celibate males known anything about sexuality or gender?
Crystal Watson | 10/24/2011 - 5:44pm
One look at the history of the Vatican bank should give us pause - eek!   .....
John Barbieri | 10/24/2011 - 4:03pm
Since when is the Vatican an authority on economics, finance, and monetary policy?
Anne Chapman | 10/24/2011 - 3:56pm
They seem to have no more understanding of real-world economics and the international monetary/financial system than they do of real-world married life.  
Tom Maher | 10/24/2011 - 3:18pm
Dave Smith (#1)

Well you warned me.  I was better prepared for the worst that I hoped would be avoided. 

Fortunately this statement is not an encyclical from the pope as some people expected.  Hopefully few will ever hear of the "Papal Council for Peasce and Justice"or of its proposals.

This looks like Rahm Emanual opportunism. Rahm Emanual says: "Never let a crisis  go to waste."   You don't have to actually help lessen the crisis.  You just take advantage of the crisis to promote your own favorite proposals.  The economy was in  deep recession so Rahm spends all his time promoting Universal Health Care which provided no help for the depressed economy. 

Here the statement leaps from a world financial problems into expanding world governement without explaining any details   They actually propose Post Office type bureaucraciy to control and  regulate world finances and more world government without explaining the technical merits of this proposal.  Most High School students have more sophisticated ideas about the limitations of government and government organizations.  Isn't this the very problem today with the  European Union which is unable to deal with the massive European soverign debt problems? 

 But as you pointed out, since when do people trained in theology and religion have any expertise in world economics and world governace?  They are inventing untested utopian schemes of world economics and world government.  This is way more than European socialism.  These are extreme ideas without proof of merit.  Shame on the church for going public with such technically shabby proposals.
david power | 10/24/2011 - 3:16pm
"They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do." So God said, "Come, let us go down and confound their speech."

I would love it if the IMF produced a document informing people how to get in touch with God...
Helena Loflin | 10/24/2011 - 1:25pm
It's Roman Catholicism speaking - the Vatican is Roman Catholic in outlook.
Mivhael Contos | 10/24/2011 - 1:02pm

Let’s Occupy a Vital Earth (L.O.V.E.)

Let’s Occupy a Vital Earth! Try it on. See if it fits and whether you’d be comfortable in adopting it when the Occupation of Wall Street and the protest at a thousand other locations worldwide comes to end.
And end it will, with nothing to commemorate it save historians remembering in their books the greatest mass demonstration since Abraham protested the Tower of Babel.
And just like Babel, this rising up will fall into ashes, unless we harness the spirit from this “cry in the wilderness“ and put it  into action. An action that is both “for” and “against” the economic system we work in, if we’re lucky enough to have a decent job to work.
How can we do this? — Simply by creating a group of conscientious citizens to recommend improving the economic lot of mankind. Form a committee from a variety of backgrounds whose principal task would be to monitor human affairs from a perspective of ethics and morality. Join religious, political and scientific people together with bankers, artists, lawyers and environmentalists. Recruit poets, academics and writers and set their task to devise a system of commerce that encourages profits but inhibits the destructive competitiveness that places the pursuit of money above all other desires, above all other values.
The wealthiest and most powerful nations understand you cannot neglect basic human values. The Ninety-Nine Percenters are reminding them they need to change. They should accept a universal responsibility for the common good and the social contract they have with not only the less fortunate, but those of us with some economic security who know deep inside what the One Percent is doing must end.
Once recommendations are made, the Committee would send its ideas to splinter groups of like-minded persons in each city, state and country whose citizens could benefit from implementations. Publicize the names of banks, savings and loans and institutions that begin to comply with the voluntary suggestions. Let those with capital decide where to put their investments to perhaps take in less profit, but give much more back to those that helped us with our gains.
L.O.V.E. — that and good old fashioned compassion will help in the pursuit of happiness, while relieving suffering for others. Try it. It may grow on  you. 

[Synchronicity must have been at work when I published this post at the same time the Vatican was voicing its call for major economic change. - mjc, aka contoveros