The Vatican has developing a position regarding the reform that it envisions for the global financial system and it has engaged a tremendous response from pundits and activist from both sides of the political spectrum. This vision has been articulated within the official teaching of the Church through the most recent encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI “Caritas in Veritate.” At present the note is only in Italian in the Vatican website but Catholic News Service offers a good synopsis for this note on Church teaching:
The note comes from the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and as Cardinal Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, tells us, this document constitutes an “authoritative note of a Vatican agency” especially as it expresses the details for financial reform that are consistent with the recent magisterial teaching from Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate.” Already many are trying to dispute the importance of this specific teaching and if it constitutes official teaching. Papal encyclicals are an official teaching of the church and they are considered “non-definitive doctrine” of the church and must be respected (not dismissed) by the Catholic community. “Caritas in Veritate” offers a moral position that challenges the infrastructure of the global economy which has lead us to the current economic crisis that we find ourselves in. Here is what Pope Benedict specifically states in his encyclical:
In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth.
While it is a coincidence that this Vatican note comes around the time of the mass global mobilization that is confronting the inequality of our global and local economies it is a coincidence that seems providential. The secretary for this Pontifical Council, Bishop Mario Toso, told reporters that the document “appears to be in line with the slogans” from Occupy Wall Street groups throughout the world. This note reminds the Catholic community that we are indeed a global church and part of a global society and that the issue of poverty and the global inequality must be one that is addressed from an ethical paradigm that is not driven by “selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale.”
Here in the United States we Catholics are challenged to take this ethical paradigm into consideration as we consider the issue of budget cuts and listen to some pundits and politicians who advocate to cut the budget on the backs of the poor by cutting essential services, programs and opportunities.