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 “The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy”??

My Comment

    Recently the Vatican’s Council on Peace and Justice issued a decree calling for globalization of the economy under the auspices of the UN.  We are required to consider whether or not Catholics are required to believe such teachings?

    First of all, “the Vatican” is not the same as “the Pope.”  Foolish statements sometimes get issued by bureaucrats without the full advanced knowledge of the Pope.  “The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy” of October 24th may or may not be such a document.[1]  Yet, several of the post-Vatican II Popes have issued their own documents on economics that may respectfully be said to be a little “off.”  The July 2008 encyclical Caritas in veritate is a case in point.[2]

    As Catholics, we know that the Holy Father teaches infallibly when he instructs the entire Church as head of the Church in a matter of faith or morals.  Vatican I put it this way:

[W]hen the Roman Pontiff speaks Ex Cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.[3]

    We must ask what part of economics is a matter of faith or morals.  None of it is a matter of faith—God has revealed nothing to us about supply and demand, or the minimum wage.  But some part of economics is directly related to morality.  Even with nothing more than the Natural Moral Law we know that people have rights to life and property.  It clearly would be within the purview of the Pope (or those working for him) to address the moral questions associated with these rights.  For example, the Pope might affirm the right of a man to earn his daily bread, to feed his family, or to own a piece of land.  What the Popes, as Popes, (and his associates) do not have is any special insight into how these needs may best be met.  The question of how society may best produce the bread for the man to feed his family, or how title to land should best be acquired is simply not a question of faith or morals.  The question of how a society can produce sufficient bread for itself, while conserving the scarce resources needed for other things, and insuring that everyone receives an adequate amount for himself is technological and economic, not religious.

    The Church has no special competence to predict the outcome of keeping interest rates artificially low, legislating a high minimum wage, increasing regulation, or printing money not backed by a valuable commodity.  The Church is in no position to rule on the capital theories of one economist versus another, nor to prescribe foreign aid as the best way of helping less developed countries.  These are matters of cause and effect, and have not been revealed by God as something to be believed or practiced.

    In recent years Modernist churchmen have come to perceive socialism as somehow compassionate and beneficial for the masses.  They preach what can be described as “ought-to-doxy”; that is they list a number of things that ought-to-be, and assume that what ought-to-be can be made-to-be by government decree.  If wages are low the “ought-to-dox” answer is to pass a minimum wage law.  If some do not own a home the “ought-to-dox” answer is to pass a law requiring the relaxation of credit standards.  If people lose money on investments the “ought-to-dox” answer is to regulate or penalize the investment companies.  If one group of people earn more than another the “ought-to-dox” answer to the perceived problem is to legislate the redistribution of income.

    The great fallacy of “ought-to-doxy” is that one cannot simply legislate economic conditions into existence.  Indeed such legislation often produces the opposite effect.  Minimum wage laws increase unemployment as businesses learn to live without workers who must be paid more than they produce.[4]  We have seen the terrible anguish of the poor, enabled by legislation to buy homes they could not afford, only to lose them for nonpayment of their mortgages.[5]  We have seen the massive taxpayer bailouts necessary to pay off bad loans backed by government agencies.[6]  We have seen the utter incompetence of the government to regulate the market,[7] and the investment disasters that stem from investment in firms (Enron, for example) deemed safe because of their regulation.[8]  We have seen the waste and corruption that accompanies foreign aid.[9]  Aside from its requiring theft from the “makers” in order to give to the “takers,” it is clear that redistribution of wealth reduces production, harming the “takers” at least as much as the “makers.”

    Documents about what ought to be are often identified by their use of euphemisms.  How can anyone be against “Justice and Peace,” a “sustainable” economy, or the “global common good”?  The October 24th document is filled with such entries.

    Among the October document’s most obnoxious ideas are the creation of a global central bank, and the global management and taxation of finance—at least initially under the auspices of the U.N.  Central banking allows governments to create money out of nothing, decreasing the value of the money, inflating prices for everyone, and allowing misguided government projects to be funded without the pain of raising taxes.  Created money is not wealth, something which only productive individuals and firms create.  Assets that are taxed become less productive, and what has not been produced cannot be redistributed.

    The new Catechism calls for disarming people and nations, while arming the United Nations.[10]  A recent encyclical repeatedly called for redistribution of wealth and for “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.”[11]

    It is hard to imagine any agency that is more anti-Christian than the U.N.  The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to interfere with parents’ ability to raise their own children: how they are educated, what they eat, with whom they associate, their practice or nonpractice of religion, how they may be disciplined, and whether or not they may engage in sexual behavior.  The government must require prospective parents to obtain a revocable parenting license, provide state-run day care, prosecute parents who violate the convention, and seize the children of violators.[12]

    Something called United Nations Agenda 21 seeks to regulate virtually every aspect of human life on earth, ostensibly in the name of protecting the environment.  If ratified by the Senate, Agenda 21 threatens to decrease the human population of the earth through abortion, contraception, and starvation.  Parental rights, property rights, water rights, mining rights, navigation rights, and fishing rights will be sharply curtailed;  use of electrical and other forms of energy will be strictly regulated and very expensive.  I am not making any of this up.  It is available on line, in a document as thick as a telephone book.[13]  Remember UN Agenda 21—you have not heard the last of it.

    According to Saint Thomas:

    It is written (Acts 5:29): “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.[14]

in XTO,
Fr. Brusca
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[10]   Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2308, 2316.

[11]   Caritas in veritate, No.67. (Italics in the original, boldface emphasis supplied) .   My comments on the encyclical are at

[12]   UN Convention of the Rights of the Child,

[14]   Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 104, A. 5

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