More about the “white paper” from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

More about the latest schizophrenic “white paper” from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  This new “white paper” – for I don’t want to dignify it with “document”, which might give it more weight that it deserves – offered some pretty good analysis of the status quaestionis and then went to the zoo on offering proposals.

When new documents or initiatives are issued from some dicastery of the Holy See there is usually a presser, during which the heads of the dicastery and experts involved with the genesis of the piece or event present what is going on to members of the press.

In the case of the “white paper” – which does not form part of the Ordinary Magisterium – the presenters were Card. Turkson and Archbp. Toso.  Also present was Prof. Leonardo Becchetti, whom I assume was involved in part in the genesis of the “white paper”.

At this point I direct your attention to the comments made by Jeffrey Tucker, which I have posted here.  Tucker made the observation, and I think he is right, that different hands contributed to this “white paper”.  He wrote: “Probably this document had many authors, one of whom gets the Austrian theory of the business cycle. He prevailed in the first section. Another author seems to know nothing about politics and power or the history of the problems of centralized states and central banking. He prevailed in the second section.”  I am guessing that Prof. Becchetti is the one who prevailed in the second section.

I have some Italian friends who are very well-informed about the topics addressed in the “white paper”.  One of them, a sometime contributor here and a mainstay of the Catholic Online Form, the great Fabrizio, offered some observations on Prof. Becchetti.

This is what Fabrizio had to say, and he is generally spot on in my experience:

I’ll quote what I said on COL. Trust me this is another “Fisichella” scandal.

Even though it’s not about abortion:  it’s not as if liberty and private property are not rather important inalienable rights of man.

“A socialist economist, a left-wing “Catholic” who’s extremely active with the Democrat Party (formerly known as Partito Comunista Italiano, here’s is profile on the website of the party and other socialist organizations. He even has a blog on the website of the ultra-secularist paper “La Repubblica” which leads the charge against the Catholic Church every time the occasion presents itself. I guarantee you that loyal Catholics – and competent economists – don’t get to spread the truth through blogs on La Repubblica’s website.

Among other things this guy formed a lobby to request the EU to levy crazy taxes on financial transactions which will destroy whatever is left of available capitals, especially for small businesses and small investors, with a trickle-down effect that will further damage an economy brought to collapse by socialist greed for power, money and control.

So basically a Vatican dicastery helped a socialist ideologue to advance his agenda with the imprimatur of the Holy See (obviously he is the ghost writer of the part on financial transactions).

The writings of this guy are quoted by all Marxist organs and groups. Here is an example taken by a blog of a local group of the Italian “Democratic Left for European Socialism”. I guarantee you these people HATE the Church and of course liberty and property. They are part of a left-wing coalition led by “Niki” Vendola, a militant homosexualist of the former Communist Party.”

Curiouser and curiouser.  There would have had to have been some pretty good cover provided for this “white paper” from the Secretariat of State.  Otherwise, with this pedigree, it probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

In any event, I think we have a better idea now why the left-wingers and catholics have gotten so excited about this “white paper”.  They are able very easily to tune into that frequency.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Legisperitus says:

    The bowtie-wearing Mr. Tucker may be right about there having been multiple authors. But he would be more persuasive if he would stop dividing the world of economic thought into those who “get” the Austrian theory and those who “know nothing.” Translation: All those who disagree with the Austrian theory are too stupid to understand it.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Gramsci reference three….one can figure this out by reading this stuff. Americans do not know how to read, because no one taught them critical thinking. And the Italians, and obviously the authors, have fallen into the evils of this Italian communist. See all my other comments. If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck…

  3. Jack Hughes says:

    Is it just my imagination or has ‘social justice’ become a dirty word amongst Traditional (and for that matter Conservative) Catholics?

    From my observations it seems that many Orthodox Catholics and conservative heretics in America have allied themselves with libertarians simply because those same liberatians are (at least sometimes) pro-life. This worries me, it seems that the likes of Mr Tucker and Thomas E. Woods Jr are in thrall to liberatian views of economics that clash with the Tradtional view of the Church best exemplified by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.

    Contuary to popular distortions’ Distributionists do actually believe in hard work, we do not however worship at the Altars of Smith and Von Miss monday to saturday, nor (to the best of my knowledge) do we believe in the gospel according to gecko.

    May I make a modest proposal, perhaps it is better to vote for a candidate whose record on life is a little spotty but whose economic views are closer to those of the Church rather than a candidate whose pro-life record is spotlesss but whose economic policies degrade man into a mere instument in economics.

    This is in part a resposne to merrilljong who in the previous post effectively told the Church to get out of economics. I disagree because economics like all things affects our salvation, in a culture where greed is God and rampent materialism is all the rage, it will be harder to (a) focus on the One True God who WILL drown out the many and (b) raise a God fearing family in a culture where simply to put food on the table both parents must work, where children are viewed as a burden, consequently a culture of contraception is created which LEADS to abortion.

  4. Quirinus says:

    I don’t know that Jeffrey Tucker thinks that ALL of those who disagree with the Austrian theory of the business cycle are “too stupid to understand it”. Obviously some are, but surely not all of them. Some others fall in the “none more deaf than he who will not listen” category. Then there is the petty fraction of those who are ticked-off by…. bow ties, of all things. The correlation between dislike of particular items of neckwear and the inability to comprehend basic Austrian economics has yet to be ascertained by experts though.

  5. Ezra says:

    Jeffrey Tucker is an anarchist, and promotes anarchism. I don’t like the Vatican document, but I’m uninclined to spend much time listening to criticisms from someone who advocates a condemned political ideology.

  6. Quirinus says:

    So because you don’t like Tucker, taxation of financial transactions, re-capitalization of banks with public funds and a world central bank are good ideas, right? And attacking Tucker was more important that commenting on the document itself, right?

  7. Ezra says:

    I’m not “attacking” Tucker. It’s a matter of fact that he’s an anarchist. [?!? ROLF! Good one. Thanks for the chuckle.] It’s also a matter of fact that anarchism (like Nazism, Communism, socialism etc.) is a condemned political ideology. I am surprised that Crisis saw fit to publish his thoughts when we have had excellent comments on this unfortunate document from Catholics who don’t subscribe to condemned political ideologies.

  8. Fabrizio says:

    because it seems to be malfunctioning in the text of Fr. Z’s entry, here is again the link to Professor Becchetti’s profile on the website of the Italian Democratic Party under the “Political Formation” section.

  9. Clinton says:

    Could anyone explain how a Vatican dicastery would select such a shining light as Professor
    Becchetti to contribute to such a document as this? With the man’s history, they would have
    had better results if they’d selected a name at random from the Rome phone book.

    Is he the nephew of someone in the Secretariat of State?

  10. Geoffrey says:

    Am I the only Catholic who finds it disconcerting that so many Catholics are attacking a document issued by the Holy See? (And no, I am not a Democrat, Labour, or liberal; nor am I a socialist, marxist, communist, or a modernist; and neither am I a Republican, conservative, or traditionalist… just an orthodox Roman Catholic.)

    [Okay. We look forward to your own analysis of and defense of the “white paper”.]

  11. Supertradmum says:


    If you read Gramsci, you will learn about “gradualism”, which basically means eroding the old, Aristotelian models of thinking, banking, and the Christian models of marriage, family, etc. Gradualism is what you are seeing in practice in this document. Except for the many who do not see this at all, this is the “quiet revolution” of Gramsci. Transformational Marxism is slow and silent, almost.

    The problem is the radicalization of the European economic community. Why do you think Greece, Portugal, Spain and probably Italy are bankrupt? Why do you think that the anarchists are getting the power which they are gaining? Catholic teaching has not been the root of fiscal policy here since WWII, but socialism, and a mixture of leftist utopianism, a la microcredit, and neo-Keynesianism. As pointed out by others, and myself, years of communist infiltration in the Vatican has come to this. And, I have been musing today, as I wondered why this white paper would come out now. I have decided today that simply because those who hold these beliefs want capitalism and free-markets to fail. Repeat, to fail. Nothing is an accident. The so-called German rescue will not be a reality, even though it seems so today.

    When it all fails, the Central Bank gurus will step in to save the day from all the poor, deluded capitalists and subsidiarity hopefuls, and say, “We told you so, and see the Pope is behind us.” (He isn’t really).

    Please remember the formula-Marx, Lenin, Gramsci, Alinsky. Or, if you like, United Nations, Common Market, European Bank, Global Bank…with chaos and gradualism plugged in at the key times.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Who knows. Is it really worth another Google expedition? Seeing as how in the final analysis this paper will probably meet the same fate as the economic documents our USCCB puts out.

    Jack Hughes,
    Those in authority in the Church do have an obligation to teach us how to think morally, but the Church absolutely isn’t, and shouldn’t be, in the business of telling us how to situate our bank accounts and run the economies of the world. That’s OUR vocation as laypeople. Those in authority in the Church are supposed to be out there converting the world, which is tougher than this, and I suspect that they’d rather do our work than their own because they aren’t having much success at that lately. But they have an obligation to do their own, even if it is tough.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Do Americans forget that the new head of the European Bank, Mario Draghi, an Italian, was executive director of the World Bank (which has sovereign immunity and why?), was managing director and vice-chairman of Goldman-Sachs International, and is a member of the Brookings Institute, whose scholars are for big, central banks and for a separate committee on banking planning outside of the national authorities in order to overcome national banking problems (properly belonging to nations)? He also is involved in the United Nations! Does this make anyone nervous? And, I think both Draghi and Becchetti are alumni of l’Istituto Massimiliano Massimo della Compagnia di Gesù in Rome, by the way. Brecchetti wrote on The Republic online this week that there was a need for “standardization of all non-regulated markets” and a fiscal policy at the EU level. He is for the Tobin Tax, He writes of nation-states taking more fiscal responsibility, but does not criticize Greek social policies (the opposite). He hits at the advantage Britain has without mentioning that this financial advantage is due to the fact that GB did not adopt the euro. He is also clear that the money from the tax may go for the UN Millennium Goals, which supports abortion facilities in poor countries. That is not to say that he supports the MDG. He questions this, but supports the tax anyway.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Correction: sorry,not this week, two months ago re: article

    No offense, but unless you are living in one of the Bruderhofs, where I have a close friend, or in a place where bartering is currency instead of money, or in a country where citizens do not vote, you need to develop an opinion as a responsible adult. Those who have no knowledge easily fall for evil, which seems good and is not so. Critical thinking is the action of an adult.

  15. ecs says:

    Geoffrey –

    To my knowledge, the Catholic Church has never taught that it is the obligation of orthodox Catholics to surrender their God given reason and acquired common sense in response to anything and everything issued by the Holy See. The document is a travesty and deserves every criticism written on this blog. The Holy See has absolutely no right to enslave me or my family and make us subservient to a one world economic order.



  16. turnbulld says:

    Like BHO must take responsibility for the actions of his admin like in Fast & Furious, The POPE and all Catholics will be judged by actions of those that represent The Catholic Church as an institution; as we are judged by our actions as His Church. Do not judge DRUDGE or The Blaze or anyone for Not Knowing the organizational structure of “The Church”. Now many will spend time doing damage control and I am sure Newt Gingrich will also be dragged into it as a “new Catholic” defending something he knows nothing about. Satan and MSM will now have a field day with adding oxegyn to a smoldering fire. Paul had to write letters to clarify and do damage control for some that may have taken liberties with The Teachings of Christ but oh what we have we done to something so simple when HE Gave it to us….how have we complicated God’s Plan for our lives; He was the originator of the KISS Theory but even Adam & Eve made a mess of that. We allow man to confuse Our Lives as we walk in His Pressence. There was an arrogance and an aloofness by the Elders of The Law and the Pharoses hope we have not fallen into the same trap but history does have it’s way of repeating itself. Let’s take a deep breath and take one step at a time but message should be universal and clear; if man can actually accomplish that.

    Douglas J. Turnbull aka TurnbullD53

  17. Geoffrey says:

    “Okay. We look forward to your own analysis of and defense of the ‘white paper’.”

    “…you need to develop an opinion as a responsible adult… Critical thinking is the action of an adult.”

    Ouch! Well, thank you for that. I am actually a monarchist who lost all faith in “democracy” long ago, and vote only when mandated by my conscience… often choosing the “lesser of two evils”. I try to live by the motto ‘sentire cum Ecclesia’, hence my original comment.

    ‘Mea culpa’ for merely expressing my concerns and, honestly, sadness. Let my public stoning begin! ;-)

  18. Ezra says:

    Fr Z,

    I’m not making it up. Tucker promotes anarcho-capitalism of the Rothbardian variety, as does Tom Woods. Anarchist political ideologies have been explicitly condemned by the Holy See.

  19. Supertradmum says:


    I would prefer a monarchy as well to a certain extent, totally agreeing with de Tocqueville’s criticism of the mob. However, we do not live in monarchies and we have to deal with the real politics around us. To do otherwise is to let the evil ones have all the say. As to your motto, I could not agree more that we must think with the Church. However, one must define “Church” and accepting a while paper from a notoriously inadequate department in the Vatican does not constitute thinking with The Church.

  20. wmeyer says:


    The CCC has much to say on the responsibilities of citizenship, which includes voting, where that right is supported. What I find disturbing is that you cite no economic arguments for accepting a paper whose thrust is economic. Our society is awash in feel-good notions of what “must” be done. The last thing we need is such irrational notions being pushed from the Vatican, by a council which is not part of the Ordinary Magisterium, as Fr. Z made plain in his original entry.

    Study any of a long list of authors: Hazlett, Sowell, Friedman, Rothbard, Mises…. Then come back and make a case in support of what the document proposes. If you can. No stoning until you publish that.

  21. Supertradmum says:


    Tom Woods, an exciting writer and ex- associate editor of The Latin Mass magazine, has written too many books, articles and speeches for me to discover the anarchy references. Can you quote one for me, please? I am interested.

  22. catholic luke says:

    I have to say I am disappointed with the idea of greater financial centralisation. I live in the UK and I have long been protesting against anti-democratic organisations like the EU which seek to reduced national power. I Normally wholeheartedly support the Vatican but on this occasion I am strongly opposed.

    Justice and Peace should note that the financial problems to a large extent been caused by monetary cooperation that took place with the creation of the €. The solution is to give powers to national goverments not international organisations.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    That’s okay, wmeyer. The hilarious thing is that none of these people have any REAL economic credentials that I have been able to find: neither the dicastery in Rome, nor the founder of Acton, nor the very interesting and funny maintainer of the official Mises Institute blog in Alabama. They all seem to be pulling these grand statements out of their, ahem, hats. I think it’s a tempest in a teapot.

  24. jhayes says:

    Granted that the “white paper” is not part of the magisterium, has anyone found any significant differences in outlook between it and Caritas in Veritate, which is Pope Benedict’s own encyclical?

    Caritas in Veritate

  25. Geoffrey says:

    “What I find disturbing is that you cite no economic arguments for accepting a paper whose thrust is economic… come back and make a case in support of what the document proposes.”

    Everyone seems to be reading a lot more into my original comment than was intended! It should not be disturbing, as I did not make any arguments, either for or against the “white paper”. Again, I was merely expressing my concerns and sadness at seeing so many Catholics attack a document issued by the Holy See. No more, no less. I suppose I should have said nothing!

    Among my many faults is that I tend to be a little bit like St Peter in the garden of Gethsemane… slice off someone’s ear in defense of Holy Mother Church (even a “a notoriously inadequate department in the Vatican”)… and say ‘mea culpa’ later! ;-)

  26. Ezra says:


    Watch Woods explain his views HERE. His endorsement of the view outlined in Rothbard’s classic anarchist essay, “Anatomy of the State”, is hard to miss.

  27. Joshua08 says:


    Tom Woods himself speaks and says he is an anarchist. It is incredibly disconcerting that he and others have allied themselves to a radically unCatholic ideology as exemplified by the Mises Institute. Rothbard and Mises’ ideologies are incompatible with Catholicism. Their view of rights is distorted. I could go on, specifically about Tucker and Wood’s (both of whom have said things absolutely scandalous in my estimation) but I am afraid that is a rather broad charge and somewhat afield from the more particular topic here. If one is interested there is the “Church and the Libertarian” by Christopher Ferrara that addresses the problems of the von Mises Institute and Acton. Or, if one prefers a more favorable view of the “Austrian school” there is Ed Feser’s critque (given at a von Mises Institute Lecture….he is generally favorable, but aware that there are serious problems with Mises and Rothbard from a Catholic perpspective). Given here There is of course actual Magisterial teaching that is rejected by these groups too, Quadragesimo anno comes to mind.

    Anyhow, this particular document is not magisterial and it is fair to say that particular suggestions for solutions are not really in the purview of the magisterium anyways (except insofar as they involve questions of principle, some “solutions” are incompatible with social doctrine after all). I do find this particular critique to be, however, wanting. First you speculate about who the authors might be and then try guilt by association. You know there are some ideas that even communists agree with capitalists on. There are ideas that are held in common by Marx, Adam Smith and St. Thomas Aquinas (such as the belief in proportional taxation). There is also, sometimes, support for the same practical thing but for very different reasons. The argument presented here, then, doesn’t really show anything substantive about the contents of the paper.

  28. Legisperitus says:

    Anyone seeking an exhaustive Catholic critique of Rothbardian economics can consult Christopher Ferrara’s book “The Church and the Libertarian.”

  29. muckemdanno says:

    “Rerum Novarum” appears to be the “anarcho-capitalists” constitution. It’s all about the absolute necessity of private property, absolute right to the fruit of one’s own labor (including the right of the rich to their property), praise of voluntary associations, and the desirability to keep the state out of the liberty of transactions as much as possible.

    If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.

    The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property.

    There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community.

    But, when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one’s standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over. “Of that which remaineth, give alms.” It is a duty, not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity – a duty not enforced by human law.

    At the present day many there are who, like the heathen of old, seek to blame and condemn the Church for such eminent charity. They would substitute in its stead a system of relief organized by the State. But no human expedients will ever make up for the devotedness and self sacrifice of Christian charity.

    Most of all it is essential, where the passion of greed is so strong, to keep the populace within the line of duty; for, if all may justly strive to better their condition, neither justice nor the common good allows any individual to seize upon that which belongs to another, or, under the futile and shallow pretext of equality, to lay violent hands on other people’s possessions.

  30. Joshua08 says:

    muckemdanno, I am simply impressed. I have never seen a worse handling of a text nor the thought of a person in my life. Through bald assertion and largely irrelevant quotes you claim Rerum novarum, which also explicitly teaches the limits to property, is anarcho-capitalist.

    This is the same encyclicals that states “It is the Church that insists, on the authority of the Gospel, upon those teachings whereby the conflict can be brought to an end, or rendered, at least, far less bitter; the Church uses her efforts not only to enlighten the mind, but to direct by her precepts the life and conduct of each and all; the Church improves and betters the condition of the working man by means of numerous organizations; does her best to enlist the services of all classes in discussing and endeavoring to further in the most practical way, the interests of the working classes; and considers that for this purpose recourse should be had, in due measure and degree, to the intervention of the law and of State authority. ”

    This is the same pope who said dishonoring legitimate rulers was an offense against God and wrote

    “Hallowed, therefore, in the minds of Christians is the very idea of public authority, in which they recognize some likeness and symbol as it were of the Divine Majesty, even when it is exercised by one unworthy. A just and due reverence to the laws abides in them, not from force and threats, but from a consciousness of duty; “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear. “(6)”

    So please, either you have been duped by a liar or you are trying to pull a fast one. Actually read the document. It is a very nuanced document. Private property yes, but limits because of the universal destination of goods. Subsidiarity, yes, but that demands that there be higher bodies to provided the subsidiuum. And so on. The view of property that anarcho-capitalists have is simplified and crude and not compatible here with either the Catholic view of the bounty of the earth or of rights, as Ed Feser, who by and large follows Austrian economics, has pointed out.

  31. muckemdanno says:


    Thank you for posting that Pope Leo wrote that the Church acknowledges that the state should, if required, put and end to conflicts between labor and capitalists…as if voluntary agreements to do work in exchange for wages is indicative of a conflict. As the pope pointed out, conflicts arise when either side attempts to defraud the other of what was agreed, which even “Austrians” acknowledge is within a state’s realm of competency.

    Clearly, I have read the document. I’m not sure you have. It endorses throughout, private property and voluntary exchange as absolutely necessary to the betterment of the lives of the masses. It also praises and exhorts all men to voluntary charity and voluntary associations for the benefit of various parts of society. Nowhere does it describe the state as having any particular right to force the poor or the rich to do anything involuntarily, other than pay what is due and respect the property of others. (Which is covered by the 7th Commandment.)

    Although I was being somewhat facetious when I wrote that it is an endorsement of “anarcho-capitalism”, Rerum Novarum cannot possibly be viewed as an endorsement of statist intervention in the economic sphere, as “Catholic” socialists might have it.

  32. Fr. Thomas says:

    I confess that I have not yet had the opportunity to read the new document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
    But why has it been fiated that “Reform of the International Financial System with a View Toward a General Public Authority” cannot be part of the magisterial teaching of the Church? The Vatican website points out that “The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issues documents … formulating pertinent ethical principles and guidelines. … The purpose of these publications is to spread knowledge of the social teaching of the Church.” When a department of the Holy See is exercising its teaching function, do not we as Catholics owe religious submission of will and intellect?

  33. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Thomas,

    The Vatican department which issued this white paper is not the Pope sitting on the chair of Peter. There are levels of the Teaching Magisterium, as Father Z noted. Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson and Fr. Mario Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council For Justice And Peace,
    Cardinal Turkson made this comment, which is not helpful at all:
    “The Church does not wish to enter into the technical issues behind the current economic crisis, but remains within the ambit of her religious and ethical functions. Thus she highlights not just the moral causes of the crisis but, more specifically, the ideological causes. Old ideologies have been replaced by new ones, “neo-liberalist, neo-utilitarian, and technocratic which, by reducing the common good to economic, financial and technical questions, place the future of democratic institutions themselves at risk”.”

    What he is forgetting is that the old ideologies of communism and Marxism are alive and well in Italian and European Parliaments.When the communists parties were outlawed in Italy, they merely regrouped under different names. There are communists who are elected members of the Italian and European Parliaments. The other problem is the confusion of sociological issues with economic issues. This is not a confusion of the need to help the poor or to allow more democratic participation in economics, but the confusion of such as Becchetti, who introduced the paper publicly, by merging the two disciplines into some type of utopian, neo-communist paradigm. The fact that these thinkers are throwing out the rational basis for judgment and going for a soft-underside of trusting big, big banks, is beyond belief. To make it worse look at this statement, by a Jesuit, without getting too upset. There is too much of the extremes taking sides here. Comments? Watch the whole thing, please. And, as a note, I am not in the middle class financially at all, but have been all my adult life, part of the “working poor”. So I am speaking from an objective place. What is missing in ALL of this is the teaching of Jesus on Charity. Jesus expected individuals to help the poor, not governments. He, as God and Man, knew all too well the evils of big government. Yet, He paid His taxes and was poor.!

  34. Supertradmum says:

    sorry missing line, “are the authors of this paper” after the names of the Cardinals….

  35. Fabrizio says:

    Fr. Thomas says:

    When a department of the Holy See is exercising its teaching function, do not we as Catholics owe religious submission of will and intellect?

    The problem is that it is NOT exercising its teaching function because as explained by Fr. Z and many others it has NONE, unless it repeats settled doctrine illustrated by hierarchically more important texts, and its function is primarily to provide the Holy Father and the shepherds of the Church with information and studies that will help them with the backround necessary to develop the teaching of the Church on a given matter. Such studies and information tell of the “status quaestionis” within a given debate, they do not represent any form of binding truth, otherwise the consultors and the “experts” like Prof. Becchetti would be given the Munus Docendi.

    Besides, the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Lombardi, said explicitly that this “is NOT an expression of Papal Magisterium” and that “it would not be correct” to present it as a position of the Church” (which begs the question: why waste our time and confuse the faithful this way then? But I digress).

    Also, during the presser, Bishop Toso said: “it is well known that the Church, when it intervenes on the social question, is acting on the level of its own ethical and religious competence. Therefore, when it examines the current crisis of the monetary and financial system it does not intend to delve into strictly technical issues”. On planet Earth, calling for taxes to be levied on financial transactions and for the re-capitalization of credit institutions sounds A LOT like delving into “strictly technical” issues. Even supposing for the sake of argument that a) socialism was never condemned by real Magisterium, b) the principle of subsidiarity had never been a pillar of the constant teaching of the Church on the temporal order and c) that no traces of demonstrably neo-marxist language were detectable in this document and the press-conference, these proposals would certainly qualify as prudential judgment. As such, they can be debated by the sufficiently informed faithful, who can offer differing prudential judgment in the light of their well-formed consciences, the Magisterium of the Church and their persoanl knowledge. For instance, they could object that such measures have a proven record of weakening the economy and adversely affecting the weak the weak, the poor. I thought we were FOR helping the poor.

    When one of the likely material authors of the texts – a Professor who is active with neo-socialist political parties and groups of documented hostility towards the Church – refers to the catastrophic, immoral Dodd-Frank Act as an example of what the document is calling for, do we as Catholics still owe religious submission of will and intellect, or are we justified in our scandalized reaction to someone who was given such a stage to promote their agenda?

  36. jhayes says:

    But why has it been fiated that “Reform of the International Financial System with a View Toward a General Public Authority” cannot be part of the magisterial teaching of the Church? The Vatican website points out that “The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issues documents … formulating pertinent ethical principles and guidelines. … The purpose of these publications is to spread knowledge of the social teaching of the Church.” When a department of the Holy See is exercising its teaching function, do not we as Catholics owe religious submission of will and intellect?

    Fr. Thomas, my understanding is that the document is intended to “spread knowledge of the social teaching of the church” rather than to add to the magisterium.

    That’s why I asked above if anyone has found any significant differences in outlook between it and Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict’s encyclical.

    So far, no one has responded to identify significant differences.

  37. Joshua08 says:


    I have not only read and studied the document, I have taught it. If you say the truth in saying you read it, then you are trying to deceive people about Church teaching. I will ignore that strawman at the end of your post (who said anything about massive intervention)

    A wage contract, for instance, is NOT just merely because voluntary. The Austrian idea of the justice resting on free consent alone and even the non-Rothbardian Austrians allowing the State to intervene when the contract is broken, is not sufficient for Catholic teaching (beside Tucker and Woods advocate NO government. Woods has a very crude and wrongheaded notion of government, where he sees taxation as such as theft, etc. The state is like a private individual in his mind which is just so screwed up). But taking the minarchist half of Austrianism, that allows small government of sorts, we see the ideas already condemned in Rerum novarum

    Lest I be accuse of quoting just snippets, I quote a rather large section

    43. We now approach a subject of great importance, and one in respect of which, if extremes are to be avoided, right notions are absolutely necessary. Wages, as we are told, are regulated by free consent, and therefore the employer, when he pays what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond. The only way, it is said, in which injustice might occur would be if the master refused to pay the whole of the wages, or if the workman should not complete the work undertaken; in such cases the public authority should intervene, to see that each obtains his due, but not under any other circumstances.

    44. To this kind of argument a fair-minded man will not easily or entirely assent; it is not complete, for there are important considerations which it leaves out of account altogether. To labor is to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life, and chief of all for self preservation. “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.”(33) Hence, a man’s labor necessarily bears two notes or characters. First of all, it is personal, inasmuch as the force which acts is bound up with the personality and is the exclusive property of him who acts, and, further, was given to him for his advantage. Secondly, man’s labor is necessary; for without the result of labor a man cannot live, and self-preservation is a law of nature, which it is wrong to disobey. Now, were we to consider labor merely in so far as it is personal, doubtless it would be within the workman’s right to accept any rate of wages whatsoever; for in the same way as he is free to work or not, so is he free to accept a small wage or even none at all. But our conclusion must be very different if, together with the personal element in a man’s work, we consider the fact that work is also necessary for him to live: these two aspects of his work are separable in thought, but not in reality. The preservation of life is the bounden duty of one and all, and to be wanting therein is a crime. It necessarily follows that each one has a natural right to procure what is required in order to live, and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work.

    (This is unintelligible of course to Misean/Rothbardian Austrians as their notions of rights is heretical. A right, to them, can create a duty or obligation for another. But this is nothing more than a rejection, not only of Christian morality, but right reason in politics. It is what allows Rothbard to say while a mother cannot shoot her baby, she can let it starve to death, and what leads Tucker to say horrid things on abortion and reject the Church’s directive about gay adoption and unions. Sorry, to follow Tucker there is to be a bad Catholic and commit mortal sin, and it flows from his Austrianism…principles matter and we cannot separate economics as some sort of amoral matter that can be based on principles that are false in the moral sphere…)

    45. Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice. In these and similar questions, however – such as, for example, the hours of labor in different trades, the sanitary precautions to be observed in factories and workshops, etc. – in order to supersede undue interference on the part of the State, especially as circumstances, times, and localities differ so widely, it is advisable that recourse be had to societies or boards such as We shall mention presently, or to some other mode of safeguarding the interests of the wage-earners; the State being appealed to, should circumstances require, for its sanction and protection.

  38. Traductora says:


    For one thing, the white paper attacks capitalism specifically and also attacks “neo-liberal” thought (liberal in the economic sense; that would be neo-conservative, to us), and urges the establishment of a huge mega-authority, which the authors have ominously capitalized. It gives a routine nod towards subsidiarity and then goes on to discuss the “Authority” in rapturous terms.

    It also makes little or no reference to the sphere of faith, which BXVI obviously considered to be the foundation for all of the rest of life in society, and does not even pretend to see the individual and the individual’s moral choices as being the key to the life of the community. Nor does it recognize the importance of different religious systems, with of course the true one, Christianity, providing the correct view of human endeavor and the key to the balance of freedom and charity. This is really what the encyclical is all about, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find such things in the white paper, which could have been written by any garden-variety academic leftist anywhere.

  39. Supertradmum says:


    Great quotations from the great saint…
    The problem is the State may no longer be democratically elected or free. If the State is still constitutional, of course, intervention is necessary and controlled. The problem with the European Union is that the leftists of all types, even once banned communists parties which have re-grouped under different names, (and everyone knows this), have more influence than one would first see. The entire idea of Rerum Novarum is still sound and good, but since the ideas of State and even Unions has changed, we need to also look at the problems of greed from different angles. That the workman and his company should come into free and fair association is not contested, I hope, by anyone on this blog. That the mega-banks, without democratic input and without government oversight, can be in charge of the money and also the taxation on goods, is another question. Blessed John Paul II’s Centesimus annus, as you know, is heavy on subsidiarity and a much clearer teaching than what was published earlier this week. Bl John Paul II assumed that Marxism and communism were dead. I am not sure about that at all looking at the politics of Europe. Socialism is definitively alive and well and growing as an ideology, to our doom and I know you know that a global economy as envisioned by some financiers today is not noted in the above encyclicals. This newer document is not as clear and balanced as the two above.

  40. jhayes says:

    @Traductora, is it inconsistent with parts of Caritas in Veritate like these?

    36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.

    The Church has always held that economic action is not to be regarded as something opposed to society. In and of itself, the market is not, and must not become, the place where the strong subdue the weak…..

    67. In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, 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. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect[146] and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.

  41. Traductora says:

    I think the whole point is that the Pope’s “authority” does not have a capital “A.” It is still all about subsidiarity, meaning that the lower levels could carry out their duties until it became clear that they could not, for one reason or another, achieve their ends. The Pope also mentions the many failures of organizations (such as the UN) intended to provide global coordination and oversight, and there are many cautions in the document about relying on an authority as opposed to the individual moral authority.

    Personally, I’m not in favor of any central authority, but Europeans and Third Worlders are very devoted to the idea of a central authority. However, the Pope’s concept of a central authority was conditioned on the moral authority and autonomy of the lowest unit, the individual, whereas the white paper thinks solely in terms of the mythical collective. In other words, it’s pretty obvious that it was written by an academic marxist sitting somewhere up in cloud cuckoo-land and dazzling the bishops (who are not economists and shouldn’t even be writing a document like this in the first place) with his buzz-words. All you have to say to a European or somebody from the Third World is “solidarity,” and he’ll be eating out of your hand.

  42. jhayes says:

    Mr Tucker is the editor of, the website of the Mises Institute, so he is hardly an unbiased commentator. The Mises website contain an article by John V. Denson explaining the view of Mises and the “Austrian School of economics” that our goal should be “perfect capitalism” with an “unhampered market economy” based on “complete separation of the economy and government.” That is quite a different view than Catholic Social Teaching.

    A major contribution of Mises and the Austrian School of economics is to show that government intervention and regulation of the economy is the actual cause of the boom-and-bust cycles, while a free market is very stable and self-correcting in a short period of time. Furthermore, Mises showed that coercive monopolies are created by government and not by the free market. Therefore, the economy does not need government regulation or control to stabilize it and will function better by being completely separated.

    Mises’s other recommendation, seen in the following statement, is to reduce the size and power of the central government in general in order to protect individual liberty:

    Durable peace is only possible under perfect capitalism, hitherto never and nowhere completely tried or achieved. In such a Jeffersonian world of unhampered market economy the scope of government activities is limited to the protection of the lives, health and property of individuals against violence or fraudulent aggression.[9]

    Mises goes on to state that

    All the oratory of the advocates of government omnipotence cannot annul the fact that there is but one system that makes for durable peace: a free market economy. Government control leads to economic nationalism and thus results in conflict.[10]

    This complete separation of the economy and the government is what Mises meant by “perfect capitalism,” which promotes peace and prosperity rather than war and welfare.

  43. Martial Artist says:


    You wrote:

    John Paul II’s Centesimus annus, as you know, is heavy on subsidiarity and a much clearer teaching than what was published earlier this week. Bl John Paul II assumed that Marxism and communism were dead. I am not sure about that at all looking at the politics of Europe. Socialism is definitively alive and well and growing as an ideology, to our doom and I know you know that a global economy as envisioned by some financiers today is not noted in the above encyclicals.

    I am at least, if not somewhat more, pessimistic than you about the death of Marxism, communism and even what Hans-Hermann Hoppe termed conservative socialism, in which latter, unlike Soviet socialism and social-democratic socialism, the government allows private ownership of the means of production, while effectively controlling their use through regulations, including wage and price controls. Certainly, here in the U.S. under the current administration (actually most of the administrations from T. Roosevelt through the present one) we have moved ever more toward socialism of one flavor or another, even if it has been, at times, only by fits and starts. I am not sanguine about the coming decades for ourselves or for Europe.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  44. DHippolito says:

    Fr. Z, regardless of who contributed to this document, and what their economic views are, Pope Benedict signed off on this. He had to. He had earlier drafts returned until the commission wrote one to which he could affix his signature. [I think you are wrong about that. First, the “white paper”, called a “Note” seems not bear a signature, even of the Cardinal President. Furthermore, there is no indication that the Holy Father approved the “Note” and ordered its publication.]
    Besides, in Caritas, Benedict himself favored the creation of a “world political authority” to manage international economic matters. Let’s not forget that, as a European intellectual, it would be impossible for Benedict not to have his world view shaped by European intellectual currents. [“shaped by” is nebulous]

    Read for yourselves:

    Caritas in Veritae:

    This analysis by Catholic philosopher John Rist, posted on Rod Dreher’s blog:

    [I look forward to reader Prof. Rist’s comments. Smart guy. He was one of my profs at the Augustinianum.]

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