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Cross-posted from Bold Faith Type
By John Gehring

An important document on financial reform released today by the Vatican's justice and peace office is a timely challenge to conservative political leaders eager to carve up the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law passed last year. For that matter, the 41-page document - "Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority" -  is far to the left of almost any politician in the United States (short of Rep. Bernie Sanders) and should also give pause to Democrats whose fundraising coffers spill over with contributions from a financial sector that has been allowed to run amok over the past three decades.

If deregulation and free-market fundamentalism have largely defined the American posture, the Vatican is challenging world financial and political leaders to rethink structural systems and the moral foundation of neoliberal economics. Showing that Vatican officials think in centuries but also read the morning headlines, it addresses "the speculative bubble in real estate," and calls for a "minimum, shared body of rules to manage the global financial market" - pointing to "rapid, uneven growth" that has arisen because of the "overall abrogation of controls on capital movements and the tendency to deregulate banking and financial activities." Catholic News Service has the most complete coverage so far.

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. 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.

In the next Republican presidential debate someone should ask Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, both proudly Catholic, whether they support the Vatican's call for more robust financial reform. While we're at it let's keep challenging House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, both Catholics, on why their economic plans depart so dramatically from Catholic social teaching. Catholic conservatives who like to puff up their chests as valiant defenders of orthodoxy might find themselves tight-lipped for a change.

The Vatican's timely call for global economic justice should also inspire U.S. Catholic bishops, scheduled to gather for a national meeting next month, to start offering a bolder critique of economic libertarianism and anti-government ideology now ascendant in our nation's politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So will they excommunicate politicians (9+ / 0-)

    who support deregulation and tax breaks for the rich?

    •  wouldn't that be nice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to see Johnnny boy crying his eyes out when he gets kicked to the curb by the church he loves so much!   I think it would take the Pope himself or some other well known Cardinal going to an Occupy site and making a public statement

    •  What a silly statement. (0+ / 0-)

      It is based on the stereotypical and wrong notion that Catholics are bound by everything the Vatican says.  They are not.  To be a good Catholic, you must only accept Catholic dogma, which amounts to very very very very few principles.  Catholics are free to disagree with the Vatican on other statements.  

      Catholics have been trying since the days of JFK to overcome the incorrect (and frankly, ignorant) notion that Catholics have no mind of their own but are bound to blindly obey the Vatican in all things.

      •  Pope Benedict supports excommunication of (6+ / 0-)

        politicians who support abortion rights.   i
        So it is not a silly stereotype, it is coming from the belief that the Pope speaks for Catholic policy.  Sure individual Catholics don't follow all the teachings of the Catholic church.  But, I was addressing the position of the Church and wondering if they will treat this policy as equally important to their position on abortion.

        •  You know nothing about Catholics (0+ / 0-)

          The point that a human life begins at conception IS Catholic dogma -- it is based on the nothion that what makes people human is the "immortal soul" and that the "immortal soul" enters the body at conception.  Thus, since Catholics believe that abortion kills a human life, it is murder.  In order for something to rise to that level in the Catholic Church, the pope needs to put words like this in the position:  

          Thus, in 1995 Pope John Paul II declared that the Church’s teaching on abortion "is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church" (Evangelium Vitae 62).

          The early Church Fathers agreed. Fortunately, abortion, like all sins, is forgivable; and forgiveness is as close as the nearest confessional.

          Saw anything like that in the Vatican's statement on economics?  I didn't think so.

          Wondering if the Church will treat this policy "as equally important to their position on abortion" is ipso facto conclusive of the fact that again, you are applying the ignorant stereotype that everything the Vatican says is of equal importance and equally binding on Catholics.

          •   I suspect that the Vatican's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            i like bbq, DaleA

            teachings on economic policy are supported by a lot more Catholics than their policies on abortion--certainly Catholic women have them in the same percentage as everyone else. Catholic women prefer a hospital in their community that will perform abortions

            Maybe if the church stopped sticking its nose into people's bedrooms and permitted the use of contraception (stats show that over 90% of Catholic women have used contraception), there'd be less need for abortion.

            And don't fare to tell me I don't know anything about Catholicism because I have a minor in it from a Catholic college and 16 years of Catholic  education.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 03:02:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What Irishwitch said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We'll stop making statements about your church that make you all butthurt when they mind their own fucking business about what we do with our bodies.

    •  Tea Party Catholics (0+ / 0-)

      will embrace the Vatican's call by "canonizing" politicians who support regulation. BOOM!

    •  They're More Likely To Start Screeching (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flaming Liberal for Jesus

      about meddling, activist priests as they shamelessly "rediscover" America's traditional doctrine of separation of church and state.

  •  When the church recognizes the evil of CDS's & (5+ / 0-)

    derivatives, I applaud them.  This is a much better tenet than discouraging birth control.

    Hopefully, the Jesuits are out there threatening Boehner and the boys with everlasting torment.  They've given us enough hell on earth.....

    The Dude abides, now get off my lawn.

    by Boris49 on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:33:38 PM PDT

  •  Church hates gays and abortion. What's the point? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I really don't see how our cause is advanced by advocating the combination of Church and State.

    If you decide to tell a Catholic politician that they must obey Vatican decisions on financial regulation, then are you also telling them to follow the Vatican on abortion, birth control, homosexuality and priest pedophelia?

    I understand your point, but I don't want to tell a single US politician to follow the orders of a church, any church, on anything, because I dont' want to follow the church on everything.

    And yes, that's how it works.  I know of no way to tell Boehner or Ryan or Newt to obey the Pope on financial matters but ignore him on social issues.  Do you?

    So unless you want to give even more legitimacy of the anti-abortion and anti-gay equality movements, I think this is a very, very bad idea.

  •  Is this from the Vatican state (0+ / 0-)

    or from the Catholic religion? I'm never sure who's saying what, or who's accountable.

    "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

    by Andhakari on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 01:18:55 PM PDT

  •  Good fot his--but they won't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spacecadet1, DaleA

    excommunicate or even deny communion to anyone who votes against help for the working poor. They reserve that for people who are pro-choice.  Which is why I left the church at age 20, over 40 years ago, and never looked back.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 02:51:10 PM PDT

  •  But what does the mafia think? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Once you get away from the gay bashing and (0+ / 0-)

    forced birth ideology, Catholic social teaching makes a lot of sense. This seems to be time to remind us that the RCC has a position on all sorts of issues.

    If the soul enters at conception, what happens when a few day down the road the fetus splits into twins or triplets? Does a twin have only have half a soul and a triplet only a third?

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