Is the Vatican really calling for a Central World Bank? (UPDATED)

Hold da phone folks… it ain’t what Drudge is suggesting it is.  Here, via Fr. Philip Neri Powell, are some cogent points:


  1. The document was NOT written by “The Vatican” or “The Pope.”  It’s a product of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  Not the Secretary of State.  Not the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Not the Congregation for Bishops.  A pontifical council.  In terms of magisterial authority, that’s somewhere near a Christmas postcard from your pastor.  ‘Nuff said.
  2.  The document says nothing new about economics or economic theory nor does it promote one model of economics over any other.  The focus is placed squarely on the current difficulties in the monetary market, arguing that some sort of international control needs to be established over these transactions so that we might avoid another global bank collapse.  There is a pointed critique of what the document labels “economic liberalism and utilitarian thinking,” that is, unregulated free market capitalism.  This is nothing new either.  The Church has been suspicious of unfettered capitalism since at least the mid-nineteenth century.
  3. The “world authority” proposed in the document is placed within the context of all the usual Catholic caveats about human dignity, morality, respect for cultural and national traditions, the authority of the nation-state, subsidiarity, etc., etc.  In other words, Global Governance advocates will dismiss this proposal out of hand.  It’s too religious/ethical and not nearly powerful enough. Oh, and there won’t be enough opportunities for politicians to steal us all blind.
  4. Yes, Church-haters and Prog Catholics will cover themselves with this document and proclaim a divine victory for the Occupy Wall St. type non-sense.   Nothing we can do about that.  Just don’t be pulled into the whole Benedict Is Calling For A One World Bank framing of the issue.

Here are The Anchoress’ wise and related words on today’s headlines:

As with every Vatican pronouncement take media reports of this one with a grain of salt.

When my Southern Baptist friends read press accounts of news or statements coming from the Vatican, they sometimes write me saying, “what fresh hell is this? Was Jack Chick right? Is the Vatican a bunch of commies?”

And I always have to remind them to “ignore the headlines; the headlines are about the press framing their preferred narrative, because they know that two days of blaring headlines promoting one narrative will completely overshadow perceptions and set it in stone. Wait three or four days for the media “clarifications” that will more accurately reflect the story — but you’ll have to look for them, yourself, because the press won’t be running clarifications in 30 point bold pica on the front page and above the fold. Check toward the lost puppy section of the paper.”

T’was ever thus.

A fundamental lesson in church-related stories: Pope is not “the Vatican” and “the Vatican” is not the pope; the Curia is not the Bishop of Rome and while they are usually in sync, their pronouncements are separate and distinct; it may seem like a small point, but — for the sake of accuracy and understanding — provenance should always be clear; when one sounds a tone-deaf notes the other should not bear the burden, and when one plays a thing sweetly, the other should not get the credit. Today’s paper on financial reform was released not by Benedict but by The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This is an outreach and communications entity — just like the Pontifical Council for Social Communications or the Pontifical Council for Culture.

There’ll be more on this, guaranteed… but as in all things Catholic (it seems to me), all is not what others are telling you they are.

Stand by for more.

UPDATE: George Weigel, prominent Catholoc theologian, weighs in:

“Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish,” says voice therapist Lionel Logue to King George VI as the brassy Australian walks the about-to-be-crowned king through a particularly orotund part of the coronation ceremony in The King’s Speech. Logue’s comment nicely sums up the media and Catholic Left commentary on a “Note” released today by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary System in the Context of Global Public Authority.”

Drudge got it wrong: “Vatican Calls for ‘Central World Bank’.” CNBC got it wrong: “The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank’.” The best of the Italian Vaticanisti, Sandro Magister ofL’espresso, linked Occupy Wall Street and “the Vatican at the Barricades” in the headline of his insta-commentary, a theme also harped upon by the deposed editor of America, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.

All of which was “rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.”

The truth of the matter is that “the Vatican” – whether that phrase is intended to mean the Pope, the Holy See, the Church’s teaching authority, or the Church’s central structures of governance – called for precisely nothing in this document. The document is a “Note” from a rather small office in the Roman Curia. The document’s specific recommendations do not necessarily reflect the settled views of the senior authorities of the Holy See; indeed, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the press spokesman for the Vatican, was noticeably circumspect in his comments on the document and its weight. As indeed he ought to have been. The document doesn’t speak for the Pope, it doesn’t speak for “the Vatican,” and it doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church.

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