Contradictory reports about the “white paper” of the Pont. Council “Iustitia et Pax”

I posted about the story on Chiesa that Card. Bertone, the Secretary of State, was blind-sided by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace controversial (dreadful) “white paper” and that, subsequently, he decided that all documents have to get the imprimatur of the Secretariat of State.

Now this comes from John Thavis of CNS who has a different take and, obviously, different sources:

[…]Sources we’ve spoken to offered a very different reading of the situation.

First, at the press conference presenting the document, Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the justice and peace council, said the text had been “reviewed by the competent offices of the Secretariat of State” before publication.

Indeed, it would be very difficult to imagine that Cardinal Bertone was unaware of the document and its potential implications — for one thing, its release was announced five days ahead of time. [Kinda what I was saying in my post.  That puzzled me.]

Second, sources said Cardinal Bertone did issue a recent instruction regarding the Secretariat of State’s role in releasing documents, but it had nothing to do with the Justice and Peace text on economic justice. Instead, they said, it was provoked by an unrelated mistake that occurred the same week — the premature release of Pope Benedict’s annual message on migration, which was posted briefly on a Vatican Web site, apparently before the Secretariat of State had seen it. [The image of a Goat Rodeo comes to mind.]

Cardinal Bertone’s order, they said, simply stipulated that any documents bearing the pope’s signature must be released through his office. The Justice and Peace document did not fall into that category, even though its content was reviewed by the Secretariat.

Third, the sources denied Magister’s report that Professor Leonardo Becchetti, a professor of economics at the University of Rome, was the main author of the document. Becchetti, who has been described by online critics as a socialist ideologue, had little or nothing to do with preparation of the text but was called in to help explain economic issues at the press conference[Okay.  So… who did work on it?]

Finally, Magister’s assertion that the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had “torn to shreds” the Justice and Peace document deserves a closer look. What the newspaper ran was an article by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, that analyzed current economic problems. It did not once refer to the Justice and Peace document, and focused its criticism on the financial decisions that have led to the current crisis. To call it a “repudiation” of the Justice and Peace document is more than a stretch.

What our Vatican sources did say is that the Justice and Peace document, which called for the creation of a world political authority to regulate financial markets and rein in the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development,” has indeed sparked discussion and debate inside the Vatican.

But that’s to be expected, they said. The council’s president, Cardinal Peter Turkson, and other officials made clear that this text was a proposal, not a prescription, and aimed to generate reflection and discussion. They also emphasized that it was not a document of the magisterium, or official church teaching, and that it expressed the position of the pontifical council, not the Holy See.

That doesn’t mean the document can be dismissed as insignificant, or that the conclusions of a pontifical council do not merit attention by Catholics. It would be good to keep in mind these words posted at the top of the Roman Curia web page, from the Second Vatican Council document Christus Dominus:

In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors.

The story around this “white paper” gets interestinger all the time!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    I have seen toddlers in sandboxes with pails, shovels and toy trucks more organized than this. Is this a denial of the denial, or the assent of a denial, or the denial of an assent, or the assent of the assent from Cardinal Bertone? Still, all this begs the question of why all the socialist, even communist influence at the level of this paper…and why the secrecy of the author, when we know the editor?

  2. Johnno says:

    It’s nice to know how well the Churh functions these days… The entire time I was reading this I had that Benny Hill ‘Yakkety Sax’ tune running through my mind…

  3. AnnAsher says:

    Really? Was that Jesus idea or St Peter’s idea following that the Pope would spread and share His Authentic and Particular teaching authority with scores of “roman Curia” ? Pretty sure Jesus used first person singular tense regarding that Rock.

  4. Joan A. says:

    I wonder if the economic geniuses in the Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice have glanced out the windows of their ivory tower long enough to notice the impending disaster in the Eurozone? Each passing day the situation there makes the ‘white paper’ more laughable. Do they even understand that?

    People now have the impression that the Holy Father is philosophically allied with the “Occupy” movement. If Cardinal Bertone is not concerned about the worldwide and largely negative reaction to the document, perhaps he should be.

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