The Vatican today released a startling policy document throwing its support behind Wall Street and envisioning it as the core of a new mega-institution that would run the world. Specifically, in the four sections of “Note on the reform of the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority,” the Vatican is calling for:
- Setting aside concerns about what happens to ordinary people in order to ensure the stability of the financial system, a recovery in the construction sector especially, and the expansion of global GDP. I know, it doesn’t sound like something the Vatican would say, but there it is. To think about what will happen to people is dismissed as the “utilitarian thinking” which is said to be the cause of the world’s financial problems. “Individual utility,” a concept that emphasizes the benefits of products such as food and housing for those who most need it, must be set aside “for the good of the community,” that is, focusing on aggregate economic measures such as GDP.
- No investigation of financial trading technology. Technology must not be looked at because it lacks a soul and therefore is beyond the scope of the “discernment and ethical evaluation” needed for “economic and social development.” I’m scratching my head, but as far as I can tell, that’s really all this section says.
- The establishment of a “world political authority,” a kind of world government the Vatican says is needed to regulate transactions that potentially cross national boundaries. This would be a new, autonomous governing body which would consult with nations but would not be answerable to anyone. Kind of like a new Roman Empire, though the Vatican, obviously, doesn’t draw that comparison.
- A continued expansion of financial markets beyond any recognizable relation to the real economy, and along with that, the expansion, strengthening, and eventual nationalization of the big institutions that dominate the financial world, with an eye toward bringing them together to form the financial foundation of the world government. And three afterthoughts in this regard: taxes on derivatives, a new Wall Street Bailout, and more clarity in the banking laws so that Wall Street can more easily steer clear of the dictates of banking regulators.
Naive, dangerous, laughably easy to criticize (aside from the bit about derivatives, that is). It is almost not fair to call the Vatican to account for the flaws in its economic thinking. But this new document is more than that. The Vatican has issued recommendations on economic matters before, and they have always been guided by a concern for what happens to the masses of people. Not this time: the new Vatican is obsessed with global output and the health of Wall Street and national governments, while at the same time saying in so many words, “The people be damned!”
It is, quite simply, not what the Vatican stands for. I don’t know what to say except, “What the hell?!” Has the Vatican been bought out?