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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Prediction 5: The Vatican becoming involved in the political affairs of
Papal message seeks "global authority" for economy
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict on Tuesday called for a "world
political authority" to manage the global economy and for more
government regulation of national economies to pull the world out of the
current crisis and avoid a repeat.
The pope's call for a re-think of the way the world economy is run came
in new encyclical which touched on a number of social issues but whose
main connecting thread was how the current crisis has affected both rich
and poor nations.
Called "Charity in Truth," parts of the encyclical appeared bound to
upset conservatives because of its underlying rejection of unbridled
capitalism and unregulated market forces, which he said had led to
"thoroughly destructive" abuse of the system.
The pope said every economic decision has a moral consequence and called
for "forms of redistribution" of wealth overseen by governments to help
those most affected by crises.
Benedict said "there is an urgent need of a true world political
authority" whose task would be "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."
Such an authority would have to be "regulated by law" and "would need to
be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to
ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights."
"Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with
its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures
adopted in various international forums," he said.
The United Nations, economic institutions and international finance all
had to be reformed "even in the midst of a global recession," he said in
the encyclical, a booklet of 141 pages.
An encyclical is the highest form of papal writing and gives the
clearest indication to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics as well as
non-Catholics of what the pope and the Vatican think about specific
social and moral issues.
It was addressed to all Catholics as well as "all people of good will"
and was released on the eve of the start of the G8 Summit in Italy and
three days before the pope is due to discuss the global downturn with
U.S. President Barack Obama.
In several sections of the encyclical, Benedict made it clear he had
great reservations about a totally free market.
"The conviction that the economy must be autonomous, that it must be
shielded from 'influences' of a moral character, has led man to abuse
the economic process in a thoroughly destructive way," he said.
"In the long term, these convictions have led to economic, social and
political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are
therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise," he added.
Profit was useful only if it served as a means to a brighter future for
"Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper
means and without the risks destroying wealth and creating poverty," he
He said the current economic crisis was "clear proof" of what he branded
as "pernicious effects of sin" in the economy.
"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly -- not any
ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered," he said.
"Financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their
activity ... right intention, transparency, and the search for positive
results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one
another," he said.
The pope appeared to back government intervention "in correcting errors
and malfunctions" in the economy, saying "one could foresee an increase
in the new forms of political participation, nationally and
"Today's international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and
failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business
enterprise," he said.
In other sections of the encyclical, his first on social issues since
his 2005 election, he addressed topics such as development, migration,
union rights, terrorism, sexual tourism, population issues, the
environment, bioethics, and energy.
The encyclical's release was delayed by nearly a year so the pope could
address aspects of the current economic crisis.