The Vatican and the Global Financial Crisis

As protesters demonstrate against corporate greed and politicians struggle with the eurozone crisis, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has published proposals for reforming international finance. It is a document that puts morality back into the heart of economics, says William Keegan in The Tablet.

While the New Testament tells us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, the Church, and Churches, understandably take a close interest in the effect that governmental economic and social policies have on the well-being of the flock.

Apart from anything else, the Church has close contact with both the citizens of what are known as the “advanced economies” as well as with the emerging nations of the developing world.

But governments do not take kindly to advice on economic and social matters from the Churches. The Church of England may be jocularly known as “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but when the social consequences of the harsh economic policies of the 1980s were highlighted in the report “Faith in the City”, the Thatcher Government did not appreciate the criticism; indeed it did its best, in the vernacular, to “rubbish” the report.

The Catholic Church has a long tradition of issuing encyclicals on social matters. But the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has now entered the fray of the big Group of Twenty and the International Monetary Fund, with the publication this week of a document ambitiously entitled “Towards reforming the international finance and monetary systems in the context of global public authority”.

Datelined “Vatican City 2011”, the report is prompted by the onset of the financial crisis: this has been with us since 2007, but the authors must be congratulating themselves on the timing of publication, coinciding as it does with the demonstrations against financial greed and corruption which began in Wall Street and have recently arrived at the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

FULL STORY Capitalists at bay (The Tablet)

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