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.
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.
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
[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.
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.
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
We have seen the massive taxpayer bailouts necessary to pay off bad loans
backed by government agencies.
We have seen the utter incompetence of the government to regulate the
and the investment disasters that stem from investment in firms (Enron, for
example) deemed safe because of their regulation.
We have seen the waste and corruption that accompanies foreign aid.
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.
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.”
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 non‑practice
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.
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
Remember UN Agenda 21—you have not heard the last of it.
According to Saint
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.
Send him mail
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