So lotsa folk are flipping out about a little document that came out the other day regarding economic justice. Before making my own remarks, let me preface it with this useful bit of analysis that helps you peel away much of the MSM rubbish that tends to glom onto such documents, as well as the freakoutery that tends to form a secondary layer of hysteria from “faithful conservative Catholics” who are only too ready to believe the MSM when the Church says something that offends their dedication to conservative dogmas, prompting them to denounce some statement by a churchman as “insane gibberish” whenever it comes to really sacred things like money. But first, let’s get our bearings thanks to the invaluable Fr. Phillip Powell, OP:

OMG!!!  The Pope says that ALL Catholics must support a One World Government!!!

@#$%!!!  The Vatican wants just One Bank for the Whole World!!!!

WHAT!?!?  Benedict XVI supports the Occupy Wall St protesters!!!

Deep breath.  One more time.  Now, OK. . .so, if any of your friends, family, co-religionists have expressed any of the above or some version of one of the above, sit them down, give them a beer, let them catch their breath, and ask them a simple question:  have you actually read the recently published document on economics and finance that has upset you so?

Betcha they will say, “Um, no.”  Good.  Get them a copy and give them about 30 mins. to read all 18 pgs.  Once they are finished, roll up a newspaper and swatch them briskly across the nose three times while saying in a firm voice, “Bad, bad Catholic!  Bad Catholic!  You never believe a word that the media say about the Church! Never!”

If they are sufficiently contrite and promise to never do it again, make the following points about the document:

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.

Bottomline:  a little note from a minor curial department expressing the opinions of some Italian economist.

So, the document is not an encyclical, carries little magisterial weight, and is not a papal endorsement of whatever chaotic aims, goals, strategies and rhetoric that happens to emerge from the soup that is the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s a highly critiqueable product of a committee, and there are real critiques to be made as the redoubtable Sean Dailey notes.

That said, I feel bound to note that it is also not (pace George Weigel, Fr. Z., and sundry others who made such haste shout it down and refer us to the Acton Institute), nothing either. It is a response to the fact that Something is Wrong and that our current economic system is in deep trouble and that the trouble is only getting deeper.

What I want to note (since the hysteria from the Right is so palpable) is that it is indeed a reflection, as Fr. Powell points out, of the fact that the Church *doesn’t* have a fundamental horror (which American conservatives do at a visceral level) at the idea of a “one world government”, nor at the idea of the state having a limited power to redistribute property for the sake of the common good. The reasons for this are twofold.

First, the Church was *born* in a world that knew One World Government. It was called the Roman Empire and Paul has no particular horror at it, nor does Jesus (who famously says to pay taxes to Caesar when the Tea Partiers of ancient Judea have very different ideas). Indeed, Jesus takes it for granted that Caesar has a legitimate role in ruling the world and even takes it for granted when the Caesar is pagan. He does not start a Judean People’s Front, a People’s Judean Front, or the People’s Front of Judea.

The Church more or less follows this notion that there’s no necessary reason to panic at the thought of a universal state. And quite reasonably so. If you believe in the idea of government at all, then you eventually believe in all the principles that logically imply One World Government: namely, that things like justice, ordered liberty, human rights (e.g., right to life, freedom and property) are not special to a particular people but common to all humans and things which humans have from God by virtue of being human, not graciously granted by the State. If you believe that, then it’s just a matter of time before you believe that the task of the state is to protect those rights, not merely on your particular piece of real estate, but wherever human beings live. So it should come as no surprise that the Vatican has had no deep objection to the project of state systems (whether it be the Holy Roman Empire, the US, the EU, or the UN) which appear to be reasonable attempts to bring large portions of the earth’s surface under the rule of law rather than leave them to lawless anarchy.

In short, the Church doesn’t *just* teach subsidiarity (the only doctrine libertarians care about in the Church’s patrimony of social teaching). It also teaches solidarity: the fact that we humans are all in this together. Solidarity, sooner or later, implies that a one world government–that is, a system of “liberty and justice for *all*”–really is preferable to leaving the human race in selfish anarchy.

Now, as Fr. Phillip points out, that teaching about solidarity is wreathed round with all sorts of caveats. But the Church does not, as American conservatives reflexively do, simply declare that a global system of government *must* perforce be a tyranny which annihilates subsidiarity, murders millions, subjugates mankind to the enslavement of Antichrist, and lives out all the worst fears of American Protestants. And Americans are particularly ill-positioned to declare the Church wrong on that point since our own system of government is a rather impressive example of the fact that it is indeed possible to have a state which possesses a strong central government, yet which honors local culture, self-governance and individuality at least 50 different ways. If we can have a United States of America, it is quite on the cards that the day could come when the human race cooks up a United States of Earth. We are clever monkeys after all.

Is such a project fraught with danger? Of course! But the Church has backed dangerous ideas ever since it proclaimed that God became man and the poor were blessed. Speaking of which, that brings us to my second point: namely, that the Church also does not reflexively recoil with horror at the idea of the state having the power to redistribute property for the sake of the common good. Neither have we Americans in the past. For instance, the state took it upon itself to redistribute a great deal of property called “slaves” in the mid-19th century because the common good demanded it. It turned out the right of slaveholders to property was subordinate to the right of slaves to life and liberty. Much the same thing obtained with 19th century sweatshop owners, whose right to property was subordinated to the right of children not to function as virtual slaves in sweatshops. In the early 20th century, Teddy Roosevelt argued that the right of trusts to monopolistic possession of property was subordinate to the common good, and he busted up the trusts accordingly.

The current mania of some “conservative” Catholics for reflexively denouncing the Church’s teaching when it threatens the sacred bonds of commerce has produced some readily lampoonable lunacy, as for instance George Weigel’s utterly ridiculous attempt to sanitize Caritatis in Veritate for your protection. It should at least give us pause when exactly the same voices attempt exactly the same tricks with the recent document, only with the added bonus of being able to say, “This isn’t the Pope, so feel free to heap contempt on it and never question your own assumptions.” A more fruitful approach might be to say, “This is saying some things you might find challenging or even scary. Why not try the thought experiment of looking at it from the perspective of historical Catholic teaching and not just batting it away as frightening to your American, protestantized, conservative gut?” Nobody’s saying you have to uncritically accept it. Sean Dailey, as I already note, makes some salient critiques as do numerous others. I’m just saying “Try thinking about it before sneering, reacting, rejecting, or responding.” As Chesterton points out, we don’t want a Church that’s right where we are right. We want a Church that’s right where we are wrong. One great virtue of being Catholic is that it puts us in contact with people who really think differently from us. Doesn’t automatically make them right. But it also doesn’t automatically make us right either.

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  • Thomas R

    Although at times in my life I’ve favored a World Confederation, and I’m still opened to it happening someday, it would be new.

    Rome wasn’t really the government for “the whole world”, it was not even in charge of “The entire known world.” Christians were aware of the Persians and the Ethiopians from a pretty early point. The “Acts of the Apostles” even mentions an Ethiopian Kandake, like a queen-mother but with much more powerful than the late British Queen Mother had, and how her eunuch converted. And I think in some interpretations, at least, the Magi are Persian.

    I admit I am more on the Right economically than you, and I do worry on that, but this is more a history issue than that.

    • Jay


      Rome may not have covered the entire world at that time, but it’s influence of law, culture and faith (Catholic) is the most widespread in the entire world. There’s no one who’s educated that doesn’t know about Rome and it’s influence those things.

      So in a sense, Rome did accomplish all that and more. Thankfully Rome is also the seat of Holy Mother Church.

      I for one am grateful.


      • Dr. Eric


        I think you’re forgetting a little Empire known as China.

        • Ricardo

          Chicoms don’t count.

        • Thomas R

          Good point. I’m big into Chinese history. However I think for the early Christians the extent of China was unknown. It was an almost semi-mythical land that made silk and little else was known of it. Although I think in the late second century some Romans reportedly reached it by boat and Syrians occasionally went that far. Plus a Chinese traveler in the Roman era got to the Middle East before turning back.

  • Scotty

    “Nobody’s saying you have to uncritically accept it.” That’s exactly right! When I bring up morality in the marketplace with my family or co-workers, all I do is suggest a third perspective beyond the Fox News/MSNBC paradigms – watching their reactions sometimes it’s like I’m speaking treason! Getting people to think outside the box (and by “box” I mean the TV/Radio), or think for themselves can be pretty treacherous, right, Mark? For some reason our modern minds are wedded to a “This or That” approach to every problem – GOP or D’crats, TeaParty or Occupy, Capitalism or Socialism – as if no “third way” can ever be considered.

    • Clare Krishan

      re: “third way,” anything vouched for by ‘pontifical’ obliges a Roman Catholic to step outside his particular situation and relate himself to the whole gamut of human circumstance, past present and future, that is, place his memory and identity at the service of the Sancta Sede by witnessing to truth in charity.
      Anything less is churlish and immature, unworthy of our high calling.
      Viewed from the anthropology of JPII, we are creatures vested UNIQUELY with a reflexive faculty, to contemplate how our actions will play out,
      to self (an infantile concern with it feels good? sentience),
      to succour (a growth in discerning health from harm is it good for me? consciousness)
      to sustain (to perceive time’s permanent and irrevocable consequence to the self and succour of others,
      is my action going to help or harm, the Hypocratic conscience if you will of prudence “first do no harm”. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit’s pneuma that makes this last “third way” possible at all, whether you know it or not!
      In publishing anything at all, the Vatican has obviously weighed in the balance that the benefits of speaking on the topic at hand (and therefore lending it the
      recognition as an event of enough importance to faith and morals that it begs the question, “Why do Catholics care/concern their consciences about abstractions above their pay-grade?”) outweigh the harm of silence.
      If nothing else, the Vatican’s mouthpiece has witnessed to a profound anthropological truth: man is an acting person capable of techne he poiesis, harmonizing both he treads “a third way” he is fruitful and mankind flourishes. Isolating himself in either one, he treds a solitary sterile life, and mankind becomes lost in futility.
      I can recognize the good intent of the authors, and I can engage their ideas — refute any weaknesses / suggest alternates (Fr Z.’s are a good start if you read the signs of the times as realst-pessimistically as he does) — but I may not malign the authority of the Holy Father to administer his temporal goods (the curia) as he sees fit. For those goods are gifted for all humanity that they may be saved, and who knows perhaps the diverse folks meeting at Assisi were impressed by the courage and perspicacity of the Vatican taking a stance at all, for many ‘voluntarists’ see no merit in facing present material evils, they place their hope in idylls of the mind that promise peace but cannot deliver justice (ie have no “teeth”).
      Faith and Reason.
      communio e liberatio
      Me + thee + He, bearing each others’ crosses
      (isn’t that why you’d be willing to lend me money via a bank in the first place, no? I’m in a tight spot, grace put you in a more generous one, lets see if we can work something out with our combined techne & poiesis?)

    • Tim Shipe

      right on scotty- I just shared this post on my facebook wall along with some similar comments as yours- contact me for friendship if you like!

  • But the Church does not, as American conservatives reflexively do, simply declare that a global system of government *must* perforce be a tyranny which annihilates subsidiarity, murder millions, subjugates mankind to the enslavement of Antichrist, and lives out all the worst fears of American Protestants.

    Next, going to tell me that the Left Behind books aren’t sacred tradition. Stick to your charism, Mark.

    • S. Murphy



  • Ronald King

    We are a one world economic system at this point already and we are united in the chaos of greed and lust for power. What the document proposes is that a formal system be developed built on the values of human dignity. It is a pro-life position rather than a system currently fueled by the culture of death.

    • Yes!

      I don’t like the idea of one-world government any more than the next guy, but the fact is that we’ve got one-world economy right now, which effectively makes a one-world system, and no one’s keeping an eye on the wealthy and powerful in that one-world system.

  • What a wonderful summation!

    Every fibre of my being shrieks against the idea of one world government– but what am I going to say? “Here stand I, I can no other?”. Or mistake the voice of emotion for the veto of enlightened conscience?

    The quotation from Chesterton is perfectly apposite.

    • Brennan

      Well said Maol…

  • Dan C

    One important point that binds itself up with solidarity is the role of “preferential option for the poor.”

    While the dude I step over in the subway requires my PERSONAL assistance first (because this is subsidiarity-not a donation to a local Faith-based charity-the actor in the subsidiarity model starts with “me”), the discussion of policy and economic structures requires the element of the preferential option for the poor. That is, the poor start as beneficiaries of an economic system, directly, not as an afterthought. Benedict, in his dismissed encyclical “Truth in Love,” posits that human flourishing is core to the proper function of businesses and an economic system, while proposing that (contra to that dude this summer from the Hoover Institution) a firm’s duties are beyond maximizing profits. This may even be a broader notion than the preferntial option for the poor, insisting that the poor flourish under economic systems as oppose to survive.

    Subsidiarity is what I have to do. When choices come in programs and budgets, asserting a preferential option for the poor is what must be inserted and permeated directly.

    This is how this duty of a “preferential option” plays out. It is not supplanted by subsidiarity, which focuses on my own charity, but expresses the love, dedication, and sacrifice of a community, often by the government which is consired the due representative of that community.

    American conservatives are in the thrall of the “limited government” parlance. It has been enunciated by many secular conservatices and I have many critiques of the conservative form of it-including the disproportional weight of corporations and their damaging effects on society without even the semblance of a regulatory system. Conservative American Catholics have to do away with ties to Grover Norquist intellectually who has no functioning concern for the preferential option for the poor, despite whatever private charity he performs. As a political actor and activist, he prefers limited government as a way to increase his idol of capital.

    This document is a gantlet set down to the right wing. Without any change in a conservative’s position on any matter, it demands a change in how the right wing understands in relationship to Church teachings on economics. “Limited government” and Acton Institute type thinking is not the reflexive thought of the Vatican, its magisterium, or the Pope. The right wing needs to engage this challenge with more honesty, embracing principles set forth. “Freedom” does not supplant the preferential option for the poor. The right wing has been struggling, with proper understandings of freedom anyway as it discusses sex, marriage, conscience clauses, etc. as well as a relationship to authority.

    This document, by a Prince of the Church, likely very “orthodox” on many conservative hot-button issues, is also a challenge to someone like Chaput who has a remarkable affinity to libertarian-disposed institutions. It is a challenge to the theologized judgemental language of the discourse (which discusses envy, covetousness, class warfare when discussing a return to Reagan era tax codes).

    This document is not a small deal, nor does the Vatican think so, but it is debatable, criticizable, and opens itself up for discussion laying out points that conservatives need to answer. It is a great document, explaining clearly what is within the bounds of Catholic discourse on matters of economics.

    • Deacon Don

      Dan C: Among other things, I teach Catholic Social Teaching at the undergraduate level, and your analysis is very nicely in keeping with the magisterial body of teaching we call CST. Well done – keep up the good work of taking the side of the Church, much to the dismay of the Weigels of the world. (That last line was pure irony – I unfortunately share the same last name with Mr. George – and couldn’t be further from him in thought and approach!!)

  • Dan C

    This is a flawed document. Less flawed than Weigel’s critiques of “Truth in Love” or this document. Less flawed than Zulhdorf’s commentary on economics. Far less flawed. But flawed nonetheless.

    The problem and question is written in red writing all over the document: what do we do with these transnational warping limited governments, disrupting the world’s econmic systems? Conservatives pretend these entities do not exist, are regulated by market forces, will be wiped out by history due to the Godly Power of the Invisible Hand.

    Maybe they are right. Maybe, though, the timescale for such forces is in decades and there are human souls suffering under the brutal dominance of these transnationals now.

    This document has at least a more honest understanding of reality and attempts to come up with answers more than making excuses for horrid labor practices in foreign nations. Its better and more honest than anything out of the conservative think tank that is Weigel’s employer.

    Anyone wonder what would happen to Weigel’s employment if he praised the document?

  • Tim

    So a discastery I never heard of until a few days ago publishes an 18-page document and it causes conflict between those within the Church and makes us a laughing stock to those without the Church… and all for the sake of a “world authority” and a “world central bank”. This is not how I interpreted “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”.

    I read the document, though about it for a moment, and concluded that it is stupid (what else would an 18-page document about an extremely complex problem be?)

    Sorry if I’m won’t enthusiastically jump on board with the Distributism “tribe” and condemn the other “tribes” for their opinions on this document.

    • Mark Shea

      Sean Dailey is a distributist and has a number of concerns about the document. It’s not a matter of tribes.

      • Thanks, Mark. Well said.

        Tim, my critique of the document did not arise from a false “one tribe vs. another” dichotomy — something I underscored in my very first paragraph.

        • Tim

          My last sentence was a sarcastic take on the “tribalism” rhetoric. I’m not entirely sure what “tribalism” means or who defines it, and it’s overuse is silly (and seems to be the kind of empty criticism reserved for political parties).

          From what I can tell anyone can be impugned for “tribalism”, and it seems fair to chalk you, Mark or anyone (including myself) for “tribalism”.

          And yes, I’m am a member of the scare-quotes tribe.

          • “Thank you for clarifying.”

          • Karen

            If you’re not sure what ‘tribalism’ means, then how do you know it’s overused?

  • Dan C

    World governing bodies exist for patents and trademarks. It is not a new concept.

  • Dan C

    However, I do not want to give the appearance of support of this particular aspect of the document. It is not my area of concern- but it is important to note that when it comes to supporting “private property” like patents and trademarks, no conservative is suggesting that system is dismantled.

  • dmv

    As I’ve written elsewhere (plug, ahem, shameless plug alert), I think the controversy among Catholic conservatives has more to do with the attempted (forcible) divorce of morality from economics. That, to me, is the fundamental point around which everything else turns. And I think it’s demonstrably wrong for people to think that we can discuss economic issues value-free, “scientifically,” or whatever. Values are at the very heart of economics. As Catholics, we’re guided towards certain values that may skew the conclusions we reach in our economic reasoning, regardless of what we may conclude when bracketing such values. (Not least because bracketing our Catholic moral values simply means substituting other values in their stead and calling it objective analysis. Consider the unargued-for assumption in economics that efficiency is something always to be maximized, and what that implies about, say, human suffering.)

  • Observer

    This reminds me of the squawking around recent stories like “Pope’s astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him” or “Homer Simpson is Catholic, Vatican paper declares”. Such stories are not really earth-shaking, but they are scarcely helpful, either.

    • Dan C

      Its more than that.

      Opposition to libertarian economics has prompted Catholics and Evangelicals to declare “envy” and suggest that the writer was violated the “thou shalt not covet” commandments.

      Recently, Paul Ryan, Randian darling that he is, tried to re-iamge himself as part of Catholic economic discussion after this document came out, still with crazy inflammatory language about “class warfare” with regard to increased taxes.

      The language and force of theological certainty has dissipated on the right. As it should. The call now is for the right to justify more foundationally its position in light of Catholic social theory, acknowledging foremost the preferential option for the poor.

      This document has already changed the conversation.

      • Observer

        I don’t think so. I think this document will stop being news within 2 weeks and will be completely forgotten in 6 months.

        • Dan C

          It will stop being “news” by Friday. It will influence discussions for an extended period of time as I already noted. I haven’t been accused of “envy” or “covetousness” in two days. It may also drive a slow by inexorable wedge between Catholic conservatives and their Evangelican political brethren. The Church does sometime promote things identified as Satanic in their popular “Left Behind” series. It will be clearer that conservative Catholics, “orthodox” as they claim to their Evangelical partners in politics, no longer speak exclusively the economic theories of their Church. Hence, secular conservative think tanks are the most prominent sponsors of rebuttals to this document.

    • Dr. Eric

      Homer: “Face it, Marge. Catholics rule! We got Boston, South America, the good part of Ireland, and we’re makin’ serious inroads in Mozambique, baby!”

      Homer: “Once you go Vatican, you can’t go back again.”

      Sounds Catholic to me. 😉

  • Dismas

    Laughing out loud., what a relief to know the Pontifical Council hasn’t been infiltrated and highjacked by the freemasons, illuminati and bilderbergers!

  • elcid

    From #3 above:

    “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..”

    I guess this leaves out the United Nations…also isn’t this the role somewhat of the IMF?

    Why any Catholic with any good sense would assent to anything the MSM says about the Catholic Church is beyond me, as a Catholic and a conservative I do affirm the capitalist doctrine, I do not believe capitalism in its essence is evil, it’s the immoral ethic of some of the people in the system, I think we can all agree that any economic system with an immoral foundation would not work out too well.
    I think as Catholics for our own personal edification if we just follow the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” by Leo XIII and the book “Ethics and the National Economy” by Fr. Heinrick Pesch we would help alleviate some of the inequalities that is so rampant in our current system.

  • Brian Killian

    I like John Allen’s take on it. It may not be authoritative, but it does reflect the sentiments and thinking of the Church in the ‘global south’, which is where about 70% of the body of Christ lives. He quotes similar thoughts from the African and Asian bishops. Better get used to it. And Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads that department and had his hand in the document, might be the pope someday.

    Remember, St. Paul did use the words “justice and peace” to define the Kingdom of God.

  • Thomas R

    “American conservatives are in the thrall of the ‘limited government’ parlance.”

    Government does have to have some limits

    “A conception of the State which makes the rising generations belong to it entirely, without any exception, from the tenderest years up to adult life, cannot be reconciled by a Catholic either with Catholic doctrine or with the natural rights of the family.” Non Abbiamo Bisogno

    Granted that’s referring to Catholic education, but still I would think it’s sensible for Catholics to at least want some limits on government when we’re in the minority. What if a global economic body demanded cheaper and more widespread sterilization, or even increased access to abortion pills, as “helping the poor.” I don’t think that’s particularly implausible. And if charity or aid to the poor becomes the function of a more unrestrained government where does the Church or Catholic-community’s role come into that?

    If there was a competently ran government devoted to the common-good and in-line with natural law I could understand the more Catholic-Left position. But that’s not the world I’m living in anyway.

    • Dan C

      International patent law is a universal religion. I do not see many seeking to undermine these world governances on this.

      Only once recently, has this been attacked. In the late 1990’s, Brazil began investigation and development of clear copy-cat molecules of anti-retroviral protease inhibitors used to fight AIDS. Priced exhorbitantly, they were unavailable for Brazil to buy. They began to produce their own and were threatened with sanctions. In response, they kept going with product development and pharmaceutical agencies had to sit at the table with them to cobble together some deals and make these agents available in this country.

      That was the only dramatic threat to the “one world government” that protects wealth in recent memory. But such a body exists to protect private property, yet I hear no conservative outcry on dismantling this structure.

      • “International patent law is a universal religion. I do not see many seeking to undermine these world governances on this. ”


        • Dan C

          And no one is happy about it, are they?

    • The Deuce

      What if a global economic body demanded cheaper and more widespread sterilization, or even increased access to abortion pills, as “helping the poor.” I don’t think that’s particularly implausible.

      No, no, that could never happen, because the one-world Authority’s charter would say that it was dedicated to the principle of “charity”! So it couldn’t *possibly* do anything uncharitable! Potential problem solved! Just like the Federal Reserve never causes inflation because its charter says it doesn’t!

  • Scott

    These “right” commentators are really getting under your skin, aren’t they, Mr. Shea?

  • “Better get used to it.”

    In the history of language, that has never created a situation that makes me feel better about an idea.

  • Maiki

    I’m glad someone is here to point out the nonsense about paranoia about the “central bank” and “one world gov’t” here. I’m a dyed in wool libertarian, but I’m *still* twitchy when people give reasons against this being that “A world government is the AntiChrist”.

    Argue against something because it might have implementation problems or because it might not serve its intended goals — not because it might fit a particular reading of the Book of Revelation.

    There are many “world financial institutions” as it is — The IMF, the World Bank, and the G-[some number] summits as well as other smaller international financial orgs. The Bretton Woods agreement is also an international financial agreement. I might agree or disagree with many of their intended goals and methods (not all), but it is not because I think they hasten the end of the world. The world will end when God is good and ready, not when we set up the right (or wrong) political climate on Earth.

    • Rosemarie


      As someone who spent five years in Evangelicalism, imbibing its eschatology, it’s hard for me to completely shake the fear raised by the concept of a “one world government.” Though I left that subculture over two decades ago, I still find it hard.

      Even if such a world body had nothing to do with the Antichrist, though, I still have many the same concernss others have expressed in this combox. Who would be in charge of it? How would it treat Catholics and other Christians? Would it mandate population control or other immoral policies?

      At least nowadays, if you’re being oppressed in one nation, you have the option to flee to another one and seek protection there. OWG would leave you with nowhere to hide.

      • Maiki

        Oh, I’m not in *favor* of it — far from it! But I mean, the world hasn’t ended because there is the UN and the IMF.

        • JonathanR.

          Considering what a paper tiger the UN is, and the fact that the IMF has no enforcement arm (and is far from being the sole authority on the matter), then yeah, the world will still go on.

        • Rosemarie


          I guess it’s like when I had to get used to the pope and private revelations always encouraging us to “pray for peace in the world.” I don’t remember anyone encouraging prayer for peace during my Evangelical days, unless they were quoting Psalm 122’s injunction to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” As for peace in the whole world, well, if the Battle of Armageddon was potentially about seven years away at any given moment, what sense would there be in praying for “world peace”? We thought we knew the end game and that lots of “wars and rumors of wars” were inevitably a part of it. God says so in His word, so who are we to pray for peace when God predicts the ultimate world war?

          Indeed, even hoping for world peace in these end times was akin to saying, “peace and safety,” which would only bring down upon us sudden destruction (1 Thess. 5:3). Or saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). After all, wasn’t the Antichrist supposed to bring about world peace? It would be a temporary faux peace, of course, but it was as though praying for peace was akin to praying for the rise of Antichrist. Or at least that’s the impression I got from Evangelical eschatology. So I had a bit to unlearn when it came to praying for peace.

  • In my estimation, the call for imagination and unity is a far more important — and far more radical — aspect of this document than is the call for “a body that will carry out the functions of a kind of ‘central world bank.'”

    • Dan C

      Obviously I am no conservative.

      But I think the “unity” feature is problematic if it squelches conservative ideas. There is a lot to offer from reticence to permit central authority too much power. There is no guarantee that the poor will be better helped by this, and plenty of world financial governances exist.

      I think the document insists on a change in discussion tenor, since we can now place OWG authorities as acceptable in Catholic discourse without, as noted above, assuming such a commentor is disseminating the smoke of Satan.

      The histrionic language gets to be put aside, because most liberal Catholics in America likely score to the right politically of this document, yet are held in low esteem by conservatives, thought to encourage “envy” and “class warfare.”

      I worry that “unity” will be used as a weapon against those of differing opinions, including important conservative voices. I cannot get on the wagon with that lesson from this document.

      • Similar worries over terms like “justice” and “peace” have been around for a generation.

        I don’t think the Church, or the world, has been well-served by the consequences of allowing such worries to dictate our response to what the Church is calling us to do — though I see the brief pause to consider imagination and unity has passed and we’re back to “international Authority” full-time.

        • Dan C

          No surprise on the focus. Republican focus has been on deregulation and shrinking the federal government. Evangelicals have had a mythology built up about the OWG for decades now. The Norquist/Evangelical training is coing to the fore. Mind you, and I repeat myself, no one is seeking to dismantle the international patent system and its worldwide implementation. Its about what is served by such OWG-type elements. If its private property that is served and protected, no conservative would consider dismantling it.

        • Dan C

          This is as unified as it gets, I’m afraid. And it is predictable. I found all the usual suspects said all the usual things. In network theory, one gets only two meta-stable states among many cooperating/competing agents. One is absolute unity. The other is a polar conflict between only two opponents. Folks will rally around the correct flag. Truth is, there is no “third option” that lasts for long.

    • The Deuce

      I think imagination and unity could better be represented by calling on Catholics worldwide to *give* of their own time and resources to the poor, rather than imagining that a secular world Authority (run, no doubt, by the same godless elites running our current central banks into the ground) will somehow uplift the poor by extending cheap credit (also known as “predatory lending”) to them (look at how well that worked out last time!).

      • Dan C

        You represent “subsidiarity” well with the first sentence. How do current economic systems or systems of governance promote or fail at placing the poor as a primary beneficiary? This is the “preferential option for the poor” aspect of CST (and I like it as “CST” in which the “t” stands for theory, so that we can work on “figuring it out better”).

        • The Deuce

          Well, let’s see here. There are a couple ways this “international Authority” could give a preferential option to the poor.

          One way could be to extend poor people cheap loans that they probably won’t be able to pay back, to buy houses and stuff. The monetary inflation caused by all this cheap credit, in turn, will drive prices up through the roof, making it so that the poor need to borrow even *more and more* money to afford it.

          Furthermore, it will punish those poor people who try to save their money and stay out of debt, by continually devaluing their savings and making it so that they will *never* be able to afford a house and basic living necessities without going into debt. Meanwhile, the bankers will make out like bandits from all the loans being created, and share of income going to the upper 1% will *rapidly* spike as a consequence.

          Prices will continue to rise and rise, forcing the poor into greater and greater debt, until eventually the bubble pops from all the uncollectible loans, leaving both the poor and the middle class in turmoil. In order to prevent itself from going bankrupt, the altruistic “international Authority” will raise taxes on everyone to bail itself out with, so that it can pay off its bad loans and keep making new ones. This, of course, will make the international bankers in the upper 1% richer and richer (sound familiar?), as everyone else gets poorer and poorer from rising prices and crushing taxes.

          This will continue until everyone realizes what a MAGNIFICENTLY STUPID idea the “international Authority” was in the first place, and the peasants storm the banks and murder the entire international banking class with pitchforks and guillotines.

          Any other hot ideas?

          • Confederate Papist

            Sounds frighteningly familiar…….hmmm….where have I seen this scenario before???

        • The Deuce

          They only other way to give “preferential treatment” to the poor would be for the “international Authority” to simply give poor people money taken from other people via world taxation, aka a direct welfare state.

          Of course, being an international government, the “international Authority” would be by necessity bureaucratic. It would simply have to give poor people money based on their incomes and nothing else, according to some set of written regulations. It couldn’t make personal judgements in individual charity cases like churches and private charities do to avoid creating moral hazard and perverse incentives.

          As such, it would end up promoting single motherhood and tearing families apart, resulting in persistent poverty, dependency, and fatherlessness, and the lives of hopelessness and crime (and high rates abortion) that entails.

          See here:

          Hey, maybe the “international Authority” could get the teen pregnancy and illegitimacy rates among blacks even higher than 70%! Maybe even exterminate the whole race! What an “accomplishment” that would be for PCJP, right!? I mean, hey, our international elites are always trying to reduce the numbers of “those people” aren’t they? I bet if we put them in charge of the entire world, they could do it much more effectively!

          • Martial Artist

            being an international government, the “international Authority” would be by necessity bureaucratic.

            That is a truism. Any enterprise that is not subject to market valuation will inevitably be (or quickly become) a bureaucracy. This is not to say that enterprises are immune from becoming bureaucracies, just that any such enterprises that do become bureaucracies are not long for the world. Government, having a monopoly on the initiation of the use of force/coercion, is not automatically subject to bureaucratically-induced collapse.

            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    Reading reactions to this document makes me a little sad. On the left-leaning side of things, I see a lot of chest-beating and I-told-you-soing. On the right-leaning side of things, I mostly see, “Well, this isn’t an official document, so it’s best to just ignore it.” The response of the Catholic League’s Donohue was typically and amusingly grouchy as always.

    A real analysis of it (as Mr. Shea, Mr. Dailey, and a precious few others have given us) is rather hard to come by.

  • The Deuce

    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.

    So in other words, it *does* is promote a model of economics that says that the more centralized the monetary system the better, and that blames the current economic bubble on not enough centralization. It expressly contradicts the model of economics that says that banking centralization is largely responsible for the economic meltdown and the increase in income inequality, and that further centralization would make it worse.

    The document absolutely does go into economic theory, even if the writers are too ignorant of the topic to realize what they’re doing. This is very similar to the way atheists often engage in piss-poor metaphysical reasoning while claiming to eschew metaphysical reasoning altogether.

    • Dan C

      This document absolutely promotes one model of economic reform. As such, is highly criticizable. It is an appendix to the many specifics absent in “Truth in Love.” It increased the perimeters of acceptable Catholic discourse, and, if it makes it difficult to talk to Southern Evangelicals, too bad. The conversation became wide open, and Evangelicals are welcome to the table, even though if the discussion allows for governances that were demonized in “Left Behind” novels.

    • Martial Artist

      Precisely so!

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer

  • The politically conservative movement among Catholics will need to broaden its thinking. There doesn’t seem to be a necessary relationship between One World government and Conservative governance positions. World-wide governance need not involve more powers than aready exist in government. Rather, it seems that it would effect a better redistribution of governmental powers for the sake the common good.

    However, since American Conservatism is more similar to Classical Liberalism then one real idealogocal problem is that Universal Governance would help to eliminate or at least roll-back Nationalism.

    I’m still looking for a downside.

    • The Deuce

      World-wide governance need not involve more powers than aready exist in government.

      Yes, I suppose it’s logically conceivable that it would work that way, just as it’s logically conceivable that, starting now, nobody will ever commit another sin again. In this little thing we like to call reality, however, the enforcement and maintenance of empires does tend to involve a pretty hefty exercise of power.

      Rather, it seems that it would effect a better redistribution of governmental powers for the sake the common good.

      And how are a handful of people in a few parts of the world going to know the correct “redistribution of governmental powers” for everyone in the *entire world* better than people who are, like, actually intimately familiar with those parts of the world? Even assuming that our world-government overlords are perfectly altruistic angels?

    • IntellectGetOne

      Brother Gabriel,

      “The politically conservative movement among Catholics will need to broaden its thinking.”

      That will happen the day AFTER the The politically liberal movement among Catholics deepens its thinking.

      And the Second Coming will likely happen before either of those days.

    • Thomas R

      Actually that’s interesting to me. I used to think of a kind of “Global Traditional-valuing Confederation.” I don’t like things that value a life of one American as inevitably greater than that of one Tongan or ten or whatever.

      Still my concern is that I think we’re not at that point and that I think global bodies are going to tend to be oppressive or at least opposed to certain values we hold.

    • JonathanR.

      “I’m still looking for a downside.”

      Let’s try it out. I’m sure looking will be easier by then.

  • Observer

    I recently read Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, which had a section on the detailed Medieval speculations about the Antichrist. One thing that that stood out to me was the assertion that, for a long time now, demons have been hoarding gold and jewels to finance the Antichrist when he was revealed.

    What an innocent, naive thought! The devil would rather pay people with money that is totally useless. Gold and jewels may be inessential to life, but they are at least something. The modern “progress” from gold to paper and from paper to electronics must please him. Likewise the “progress” from buying shares in the profits of a business to complicated instruments with no obvious relationship to anything must likewise please him. Listen to the ads on the radio that promise, “Make money if the market goes up or down!” That sounds honest, like something a saint would be involved in, doesn’t it?

    How much of this problem would go away if we stopped basing our world economy on invisible, intangible, and largely imaginary properties?

    • Dan C

      Money is the medium of exchange representing a share of Creation. If someone has more of God’s Creation, and another, not enough to pay for medication, well, something is wrong.

      Money is not a favor from God, or a sign of approval. It is to reflect a share of Creation that instills enormous responsibility on the one who holds that share of God’s Gift to Man.

      • Observer

        It’s not that I disagree with your statement; it’s that your statement has no particular relationship to my comment.

        Gold coins were money, and they were the medium of exchange. However, their value was really set by the scarcity of gold and its universal desirability; the monarch’s portrait did not give the money its value, it only gave assurance of the purity of the coin.

        The situation could not be more different with paper money. Paper is not scarce, and these dirty little green notes are not inherently universally desired. Their value depends only on the full faith and credit of the issuer, which has no set value. Worse than that, though, are mortgage derivatives, which combined usury with dishonesty and which, incidentally, triggered the crisis that triggered this pontifical council to issue a note.

        Priest: Do you reject Satan?

        Response: I do.

        Priest: And all his works?

        Response: I do.

        Priest: And all his empty promises?

        Response: I do.

        Our economy has come to be built on empty promises.

  • Dan

    This whole brouhaha reminds me of when, back when I was an Anglican who had split from the Episcopal Church because of their heresies and apostasies, the Anglican primates of Nigeria and Uganda had been giving (still are, AFAIK) lots of aid and comfort to rebel Episcopalians like myself.

    And then the African Anglican Primates came out with an economic statement. Man, did my fellow “conservative” Anglicans’ heads explode or what. Very entertaining, especially for someone like me: a social conservative who is a war-skeptic, with economic views rather to the left of the current President.

    I get similar enjoyment from the fireworks from “conservative” Catholics when the Vatican shows once again that they don’t think God sent his Son to establish the Free Market.

    • IntellectGetOne


      The issue is not disagreements in foundational Christian moral teaching.

      Both conservatives and liberals agree to those, as far as I can see. All want to help the poor, sick and needy.

      It is the means to those ends where the divisions lie.

      The conservative can justly point to capitalism and free-and open markets lifting more human’s out of poverty and destitution in the last fifty years, than any other philosophy or government body has ever done in the history of humanity.

      Because this was not driven by capitalism and a free-market, rather than by government decree, does not make it anti-Christian. They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our laws.

      Let us then, at least agree that it would be best if those on the left would stop falsely disparaging the motives of those on the right.

      • Confederate Papist

        “Let us then, at least agree that it would be best if those on the left would stop falsely disparaging the motives of those on the right.”

        We have a better chance of aliens from another planet landing on earth and bringing gifts of bottomless beer kegs….

        • Dan C

          Seriously, until this week, suggesting a return to the Reagan era taxation environment resulted in accusations that I had “envy” and violated “covetousness.” Its not only liberals suggesting political opponents have ill will.

          • S. Murphy

            True that. Original sin is on both sides of the aisle.

  • Dave Pawlak

    One World Government? I’d rather have Notting Hill, or the Republic of Treacle Mine Road…

  • Peggy R

    I’ve already commented on this document elsewhere. It does have its problems, and it is bizarre to seek further surpra-national governance, especially as the eurozone is collapsing before them in Europe. These Vatican folks look rather foolish in this light. I do think any “one world government” statements from the Vatican ought to be accompanied by the qualifier that the Church assumed a global governance under the direction of the Catholic Church, its Holy See. I think that would cause the progressives and statists to back off loving them so much.

    Mark, I thought your post here about the document itself was reasonable.

  • Confederate Papist

    My guess is that a one world government would not be friendly to the Roman Catholic church or her children.

    • Peggy R

      Bingo! As you have said on other posts.

    • The Deuce

      Well, the question is, who is going to lead this world government? Undoubtedly, it’s going to be the same transnational elites currently leading such paragons of truth and justice as the UN or the EU. You know, that UN that has become a pulpit for every tinpot, Christ-hating dictator in the world? You know, that EU that decided to delete any acknowledgement of Europe’s Christian past out of its historical declarations regarding its heritage? And who’s going to run this international banking system but the same bankers who have gotten crazy-rich at everyone else’s expense running our existing semi-international banks? Of course, even if it somehow weren’t the exact same people, you have to ask yourself, what kind of person is going to tend to want and get the position of world dictator?

      The document seems to be based on that cherished lefty notion that the more centralized, elite, and “internationalist” the governing body, the more automatically “enlightened” and benevolent it is. Apparently “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a defunct notion in their opinion.

      What offends me about this document isn’t that the writers don’t appear to believe in Subsidiarity as anything more than a handy fig-leaf catch phrase. It’s that the don’t appear to believe in Original Sin.

      • Confederate Papist

        Peggy – thanks! 😉

        Rosemarie has said the same above. Will they impose population restraints? Income restraints? Tell us what to drive, to eat, clothes to wear, etc.?

        The UN has tried repeatedly to impose these types of things, including a global tax, only to be rebuffed by the US and other nations. A OWG with these nuts in charge negates the veto power. And another point she made, which I was thinking but didn’t say, at least now, you don’t like what the government is doing you can move, when the OWG takes charge, where do you go? I mean Branson’s space ship is only affordable for the hated rich folks, so don’t think any plebes like us are gonna be able to go to the moon to escape it any time soon.

        • Peggy R

          I’m with Deuce and Confederate Papist here. The same-old transnational crowd would run this show with the same old things happening. Codified globally. The EU experiment should tell us much about the economic instability and unfriendliness toward the Church and people of faith that will emit from such an entity.

          We do have the IMF, World Bank and UN to address global economic matters. It may be useful to revamp them; on the other hand it may be useful to eliminate them altogether…

  • I’m often amused at the tendency folks have of assuming that if a non-American says it, it must be true. As if once we drop ‘but they’re saying it in Africa or Asia’, that’s the end of the debate.

    As for the whole appeal to Global Authority. Like distributism, all that would do is shift the problems around. Maybe it would make them worse. It would sure make them more difficult to escape.

    But the strangest thing to me is the tendency of concluding that the Democratic experiments, Capitalism, nationalism, and all the attempts to resolve problems of the previous thousands of years have resulted in such dismal failures that we need some Global Authority to step in and make things better. Especially when we can see what a ‘Global Authority’ might look like. Just look at the UN. Not all bad. But what’s the beef Catholics have about the UN trying to impose this or that ideal on the world? Easy, it’s imposing it on the world and expecting everyone to conform. It’s not saying ‘we think this or that country can do this or that’, when it speaks of abortion rights or gay rights or other issues in conflict with the Church, the anger is that this is done on a global level, with nowhere for good Catholics to turn (if it were to actually happen and have the ability to enforce it). Well folks, that’s Global Authority for you.

    It’s a little like an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon I remember. Calvin and Hobbes spend an afternoon trying to build a model jet. It turns out rotten. Nothing works and Calvin believes he wasted his time and money. But then, out of the blue, he determins now he knows what he is doing and he can try again! Hobbes chimes in and suggests this time, instead of a simple plastic jet, they get a giant Clipper Ship with all the riggings. Seeing the problems of the world, and then concluding let’s go Global and that should make things better, is a little bit like ‘hey, since the model plane didn’t work, how about we get a big Clipper Ship this time with all the riggings!’ At least IMHO.

    Sure, we may end up going that way. Other cultures may be increasing as America and the West (with all its sins and evils) decreases. A staple of progressive thinking is that this would be a good thing. But don’t, for the splittest second, assume it will change anything in the long run. At best, it will be just as bad, maybe for different people (probably most of our children and grandchildren). At worst, it will cause much greater problems for a much longer time.

    • Dan

      I’m often amused at the tendency folks have of assuming that if a non-American says it, it must be true. As if once we drop ‘but they’re saying it in Africa or Asia’, that’s the end of the debate.

      I didn’t say that. I said it was fun to watch my fellow conservative Anglicans’ heads explode because they assumed that “conservative” meant “Republican, free-market” and whatever else it seems to mean these days in the US of A. These good, Christian Americans had trouble reconciling the support they were getting from African churches for their resistance to the dominant pelvic issues in American culture, with the economic statements of those same Africans that were a fair bit to the left of Robert Rubin.

      Likewise, it’s fun to watch “conservative” Catholic heads explode when the Vatican comes out with a statement that’s just as consistent with Scripture as “abortion is evil” and “gay marriage is an oxymoron”, but doesn’t fit American “conservative” political alignments.

      • Dan

        That said, leftish heads explode just as loudly. The guest essay on NPR last evening, by a priest pointing out that Pope Benedict’s economic statements are rather to the left of President Obama’s, was full of barely suppressed giggles.

        “My word, the Catholic Church is against a woman’s right to choose, and gay rights too! How can they possibly be saying these things about the economy and the poor that are to the left even of me?”

      • I wasn’t actually picking on you. It’s an overall trend I’ve noticed. It’s not uncommon really. We’ve grown up in a culturally and socially progressive environment, even if we ourselves aren’t ‘progressive.’ One of the hallmarks of Western Progressive thought is a complete contempt for all things Western/Christian/American. Mark sometimes says that all religions are superior to the Catholic Church in the Leftist mindset. Not really. In the Leftist mindset, all things are superior to all things Western/Christian/American.

        Even if we aren’t of that thinking, we’re still influenced by it. So we have an easier time just slamming the sins of our past than, say, the sins of Asia or Africa or the Middle East. At least in such a broad and non-qualified way. Likewise, we just seem to have this idea that if someone – anyone – from another country says something (British accents still get you bonus points for Americans), we tend to put some ‘weight’ on it. Don’t know why, I just noticed it again in this debate as not a few folks have said ‘hey, this is supported by people in Africa and other parts of the world.’ I’m sure it is. I have friends from Africa from my missions days. I know they see things differently – radically differently – than we do. It’s a nice different perspective. But doesn’t make them any more right than a good old fashioned hot dog eating, baseball watching American. Something, IMHO, to remember.

  • Peter M

    Having just read the document, along with quite a bit of commentary online, I would say that while the document makes some good points, but its suggestions are ultimately very poor. Probably the best commentary I read about the document was here . The thing that the document does not take into account is the terrible track record transnational organizations have when they try to intervene in local economies and local governance. While the emphasis that the document gives to regarding the dignity of the human person and need for morality in the sphere of economics is right on the mark, transnational organizations (I’m thinking UN, IMF) have a bad history of using their might coercively towards smaller nations, including forcing them to liberalize abortion laws in exchange for economic benefits.
    A solution that this document does not look at is privileging local economies where individuals have greater control. For a great book about economics in a Christian context, get a copy of “Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire” by William Cavanaugh

    • The Deuce

      …transnational organizations (I’m thinking UN, IMF) have a bad history of using their might coercively towards smaller nations, including forcing them to liberalize abortion laws in exchange for economic benefits.

      Why, that’s just because they’re not transnational and powerful enough yet! Give them power over all financial transactions, the ability to redistribute possessions, and complete global scope, and presto! They will instantaneously become benevolent paragons of wisdom, justice, and charity.

      Clearly, you are unfamiliar with the doctrine of World Empires And Their Preservation From All Sin Both Original And Actual 🙂

      (sorry Mark, had to)

      • Confederate Papist


        Worked out good for that Empire, huh?

  • Abe

    I’m not concerned about what Catholics think of this document. What you should be afraid of is all of our “I don’t know how to interpret eschatological imagery in the bible” protestant friends. They will jump at this document and say that “see the Pope is the Anti-Christ.” You put this in conjunction with the meeting of world religions in Assisi and the religious hysterics will start pulling their hair out and say that the end of the world is at hand. Do you really think that any of these people will actually read this document. No way. They get a high from their hysteria. If their faith had no hysteria in it, they wouldn’t be Christians, they’d by hysterics in another religion.

    • David Carlon

      Snorting laughter.. bullseye.

    • This reminds me of something my boys ask since we entered the Catholic Church. They asked me why Protestants say such things about Catholics. I’ve learned I have to tell them, “Because Catholics say the same things about Protestants.”

    • Dan C

      I say: who cares. If Evangelicals are going to continue to stumble around with a need for constant external correction, that is their fault.

  • David Carlon

    NOTE TO DIARY: The corrupt right wing oligarchy is wailing and gnashing their sole remaining tooth…

  • TeaPot562

    In a one-person shop, the owner can be 100% effective, and accomplish his objectives. As soon as he/she gets an employee, some slippage will occur between the owner’s intent and what happens.
    The larger an organization is, the more you will find different parts of it working at cross purposes. The state of California is more screwed up than any county; and the U.S. federal government is worse off than any state. When you get to international organizations, you find absolute dictatorships represented on committees trying to set standards for human rights that do not exist in the dictator-run members. Within the Catholic church, not all bishops follow directives issued by curial authorities at the Vatican, as close observers can attest.
    Care for the poor should be handled at the smallest regional level with the resources to handle. Sometimes a catastrophe (flood, hurricane, earthquake) can overtax a region’s resources and other regions should come to the aid of that worst afflicted; but trying to establish “economic justice” on a global basis, with some international authority to determine policy, is a prescription for inertia and potential corruption.

    • IntellectGetOne

      I can I get an “Amen” from the Chorus?

  • “So, the document is not an encyclical, carries little magisterial weight, and is not a papal endorsement of whatever chaotic aims, goals, strategies and rhetoric that happens to emerge from the soup that is the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

    • Forgot to add: So Mark, does this mean this IS a Magisterial document and as a Catholic I must obey this????? I am confused as many blogosphere accounts say NO.

  • Mark,

    I am somewhat to the right of Attilla the Hun, and I had no major problems with this document from the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice. I said as much here:

    As for wealth redistribution, I find nothing wrong with a community (village, town or city) voting to give tax money to help the poor in that community. I do, however, have a lot of misgivings on doing this at the Federal level. Yes, Solidarity and Subsidiarity are two sides of the same coin. But an impoverished Federal government is one that cannot take individual rights away.

    As for the ideal of a world authority or government with a logical and consistent method of banking and commerce, that is certainly a nice ideal – one that I can’t fault. But mankind’s condition of sin ensures that any such government will lack the benevolence envisioned in the Pontifical Council’s paper. Rather, it will be a type of Robespierre resurrected.

    In any event, I really liked the stress that the paper put on morality for this whole thing to work. But man, being in dead in his sin (Ephesians 2:1), cannot make this happen.

    • Gideon Ertner

      So why is wealth redistribution OK when it is done by ‘smaller’ entities and not by ‘larger’? Of course, the larger the political entity, the further away the authority is from the people involved and the greater the bureucratic wastage. But where do you draw the line?

      Following your reasoning, the only acceptable political system would be if we divided up the world into independent communities of no more than a couple hundred inhabitants, so that everyone knew each other intimately. And “mankind’s condition of sin” would ensure that even that system would be doomed to utter failure.

      • The best solution is the one that the Founding Fathers of these United States had: a Christian Consitutional Republic.

        What we have today, however, is a national secular atheist democracy.

        And you guys want to give these atheists a world government?


  • The author of this document, Cardinal Turkson, has been talked about as a possible pope. It depends if the conclave wants to go with a 3rd world candidate. Some say that is long overdue. If they go that direction he would be a very short list of choices. The point is you don’t want to start a new pontificate by explaining why you called the new pope flaky or a loony or any of the other adjectives Cardinal Turkson is getting thrown his way.

  • filiusdextris

    Mark, I am not one of your biggest fans, usually for tone reasons, but I want to point out that this is the best, and not even close, blog post I have read on the subject. I’ve read the original document twice, and several shamefully self-righteous blogs. Instead, this was funny, wise, and fruitful. The reasoning was spot on. Thank you.

  • Blake Helgoth

    I am with you, I do not see anything inherently evil with a one world government. However, the reality is that is that the crooks and scoundrels that have been working to see this up for over a hundred years have a poor track record indeed. The document does point out possible pitfalls in the implementation, but does little to shine light on the enormity of corruption in the international banking community as well as the Worl Bank and the UN. One modern example among a plethora is the multi billion dollar oil for food scam. I do think that writter(s) starting position is that since an internationally interconnected economy already exists we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. However, they are incrediblly nieve if they think the current lot of uber-rich international industry / banking crowd should be the one to establish and execute a world wide authority.

  • John B.

    “the document is not an encyclical, carries little magisterial weight, and is not a papal endorsement of whatever”

    The document itself may not be important and may have been released by an utterly irrelevant dicastery. Nonetheless, it does shed some light in the “World Political Authority” briefly mentioned by Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate two years ago and by John XXIII many years ago in Pacem in Terris. That’s what makes this document important.

    “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.”

    That’s not entirely true. The document is not proposing a Catholic “World Authority”. It clearly proposes the UN as the model, reference for such “world authority”. And the UN is far from sharing the catholic view about human dignity, morality, etc. etc.

    “If we can have a United States of America, it is quite on the cards that the day could come when the human race cooks up a United States of Earth.”

    And that would be a very sad day for the Church. A State, like USA, that is simply neutral(?) in matters of religion is not in agreement with the catholic doctrine. I’m sure you know that the Church teaches that States are morally required to publicly profess the Catholic religion.

    Nevertheless, I do agree that the Church is not against a World Government but that Government has to be Catholic.

    But do you really realize what you just endorsed? You simply said OK to the end of the Papal States. In the future you envisage, I suppose the Holy See and the confessional catholic states (there are still a handful) will cease to exist for good.

    Since your United States of Earth will likely be a lay state, the Church will no longer have any special status. The Pope himself will also be a regular citizen of the Unites States of Earth, no longer a rightful Monarch Head of State.

  • stilbelieve

    ‘If we can have a United States of America, it is quite on the cards that the day could come when the human race cooks up a United States of Earth. We are clever monkeys after all.”

    Oh, Mark Shea, you are such a true believer!

    In the history of the world, there has never been a United States before. And why is that? Because there was never before a time where men with the minds and faith in God, like those who forged this nation, had such a new land in which they could create their own destiny. Those minds knew the dangers of “kings” and “kingdoms.” They knew it because they knew their history. Mankind proved themselves unable to be what the “Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace” has declared is needed. And so they created a document called the Constitution which divided the powers of government into three equal parts so that man would not to be dictated to by any one of them.

    But that Constitution has been under attack, especially in the last hundred years, by liberalism and the nebulous statement of “the common good.” What is the “common good?” Who determines what “common” means? Who determines what “good” is? I’ll tell you who – liberals do; they’re the ones who love to dabble in other people’s lives and tell them how they should live and what they ought to be doing with their money. They are, in their minds, little kings; give them power and they will become dictators.

    The verbiage “peace and justice” is a forum used by liberals to create a kingdom to rule over the people and take away the freedom and liberty that our Constitution gave to those of us blessed to be citizens of the United States of America. The Commandment: Thou shall not covet,” means nothing to those enamored with the words, “peace and justice.” They wear those words with pride, confident in their “spiritual goodness.”

    • Epoetker

      I prefer Truth and Justice, myself. American comic book writers have better slogans than liberals-or the L’internationale-ized Catholics who think that knowing every jot and tittle of temporal bureaucratic organization makes them immune to criticism.

      Chesterton aside, as long as Catholics think ‘helping the poor’ means ‘cheer for moving lots of them to the US and other First World nations and let the government social services take care of them’ then they’re just international meddlers on par with the same Jewish caricatures that people like George Soros resemble.

  • Billy Bean

    Hi, Mark. Sanity, as usual, as I’ve come to expect from you. Lost my computer in recent flood
    and am trying to use smartphone. Hope to resume whatever normslcy we had soon.