Does This Surprise Anyone?

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Hattip to commenter RL for alerting me to this.  Father Z directs us to Chiesa for some information about the confusion surrounding the release of Towards Reforming the International Financial & Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority:

Over at Chiesa, there is a piece about the new, confused “white paper”, as I prefer to call it, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Too Much Confusion. Bertone Puts the Curia Under Lock and Key

The document of “Iustitia et Pax” on the global financial crisis is blasted with criticism. The secretary of state disowns it. “L’Osservatore Romano” tears it to shreds. From now on, any new Vatican text will have to be authorized in advance by the cardinal [Imagine!  The left hand knowing what the left hand is doing!]

by Sandro Magister

ROME, November 10, 2011 – Precisely when the G20 summit in Cannes was coming to its weak and uncertain conclusion, on that same Friday, November 4 at the Vatican, a smaller summit convened in the secretariat of state was doing damage control on the latest of many moments of confusion in the Roman curia. [You would think they'd be getting good at damage control.]

In the hot seat was the document on the global financial crisis released ten days earlier by the pontifical council for justice and peace. A document that had disturbed many, inside and outside of the Vatican.

The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, complained that he had not known about it until the last moment. And precisely for this reason he had called that meeting in the secretariat of state.  [But... wait.  That means he saw it before it was released.  Or did I get that wrong?]

The conclusion of the summit was that this binding order would be transmitted to all of the offices of the curia: from that point on, nothing in writing would be released unless it had been inspected and authorized by the secretariat of state.  [Interesting in principle, I suppose.  But the Secretariat of State is already the über-dicastery of all dicasteries.  Perhaps the Suprema, the CDF ought to be involved.]

Go here to read the rest. Go here to Chiesa to read the article by Sandro Magister.  Some critics of the paper have called it Marxist.  I think that criticism is off base, but after reading the Magister article I have revised my opinion.  It was Marxist, but rather Groucho, Chico and Harpo, not Karl.

16 Responses to Does This Surprise Anyone?

  • I am a bit surprised, actually. I’d been ready to assume this was a case where a lot of the Vatican was caught up in a way of thinking I just think is wrong — though since it’s not a doctrinal issue I don’t necessarily see that as a problem.

    Instead it seems like the dictum that one should never attribute to wrongness what can instead be attributed to glaring incompetence comes into play.

  • Ivan says:

    The Vatican has no special competence to advise on the manner in which financial transactions should be conducted. At best it should maintain that business should be conducted with good faith and integrity. But this does not allow the bureaucrats to carry on about mysterious banking interests – never the ones who handle the Vatican’s own financial interests – and the plutocrats. In any transaction there are at least two parties; in the moral universe inhabited by these people it is never the fault of the borrower that a loan goes into default – that he had borrowed recklessly beyond his means, that he had in many cases made false representations as in the case of Greece. No only the lender is liable, he is the only moral agent here; the borrower a mere babe in the woods. There is nothing Christian about such an ethic; it is simple granstanding and tasteless to boot, coming from such an ancient institution.

  • M.Z. says:

    Considering the parts that caused controversy were direct quotes or applications of Caritas in Veritate, I’m thinking there is not really a disagreement in substance as is being implied. Most commentary in agreement with the “white paper” grounded its legitimacy in its agreement with previous encyclicals and teaching and not just that it came forth from a Vatican agency. Fr Z might be more aware of this if he actually visited his home diocese on occasion rather than living on a pastoral estate in Wausau playing on the Internet and living off a right wing sinecure for the past 10 years.

  • Darwin says:

    Heh. Exactly.

    Directly from Magister’s article:

    But more than these terrible grades, what has been even more irritating for many authoritative readers of the document of the pontifical council for justice and peace is the fact that it is in glaring contradiction with Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”

    In the encyclical, pope Joseph Ratzinger does not in any way call for a “public authority with universal competency” over politics and the economy, that sort of great Leviathan (no telling who gets the throne, or how) so dear to the document of October 24.

    In “Caritas in Veritate” the pope speaks more properly of the “governance” (meaning regulation, “moderamen” in Latin) of globalization, through subsidiary and polyarchic institutions. Nothing at all like a monocratic world government.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    What’s even funnier than MZ’s avoidance of the inconvenience of Magister’s article is that his non sequiter ad homimen against Fr. Z doesn’t even make sense. It’s disappointing, actually. MZ used to put his heart into his inane ramblings, but this seemed like a perfunctory effort lacking in spirit. It’s a shame to see a master lose his touch.

  • Darwin says:

    So your claim is that the Note and CV are substantially the same in re world government and your support for this is that we should take your non-expert opinion over Magister’s (which is based on interviewing top Vatican sources). Yeah…

    And that’s aside from the tear apart which L’Osservatore Romano ran on the economic analysis in the note.

  • M.Z. says:

    You are free to take anyone’s opinion you would like. Neither I nor anyone else is obligated to take a tabloid reporter’s opinion. When people go on record, I might accept their authority.

    So now you give a rip what’s in L’Osservatore. I must confess there is the faint appearance of authority shopping going on.

  • DarwinCatholic says:

    The only authority shopping I’m seeing here is that now that the Vatican Secretary of State and L’Osservatore Romano have come out basically discounting and contradicting the Note, the people who have been on their high horse for the last couple weeks are all “nothing to see here”. Somehow I don’t see your co-writers retracting any of the posts about “right wing” heretics and dissidents from the last little while — but it’s evident that the level of disagreement with this Note which the Vatican is comfortable in publishing itself is rather higher than level which some self appointed champions of orthodoxy (who were all too ready to shop around the “Pope joins the OWS” meme) were willing to tolerate.

    In a sense, I’m all the more annoyed in that I bothered to read the thing and admit where I clearly didn’t see eye to eye with it. I suppose, if nothing else, it’s a good lesson that if something seems too silly or trivial to be “Church teaching” rather than getting all searching about it, one should assume that it in fact is.

  • Phillip says:

    “…if nothing else, it’s a good lesson that if something seems too silly or trivial to be “Church teaching” rather than getting all searching about it, one should assume that it in fact is.”

    Money quote of the week. :)

  • Generally speaking I’ve found Magister’s reporting to be highly reliable on Vatican affairs (whether it’s stuff I want to hear or don’t want to hear) and I haven’t particularly heard of the CNS writer. This certainly does provide everyone with a version they can enjoy, however.

    On Tedeschi’s L’Osservatore Romano article — it pretty clearly disagrees with both the account of the origins of the financial crisis given in the Note, and also with several of its suggestions (for instance, the transaction tax). It does not mention the note by name, but given how directly it seems to address its content I don’t see how one can interpret it as addressing anything else.

    At an absolute minimum, the conjunction of these two pieces seems to suggest that the reception of the Note has been as divided among Vatican sources/insiders as it has been among the US laity. Hardly reinforcement for the claim that this is the only acceptable way for Catholics to think. (Much less the idiotic “Pope Joins Occupy Wall Street line which Reese was peddling before the Note even came out.)

  • Traditionally the Vatican bureaucracy has been ridden with factions and infighting, but this is reaching Keystone Kops proportions. I wonder if this paper is one of the opening shots in preparation for the next conclave? It will be interesting to hear what Magister has to say about all this. I have no doubt he reported accurately what his sources told him, and his analysis of the factional infighting surrounding this paper in the Vatican would be both illuminating and highly amusing for those of us who do not mistake such ephemera as this with Holy Writ.

  • John Henry says:

    I’m just surprised that anyone of either political stripe would be particularly impressed by that document. The uncritical embrace of supra-national authority and centralized banking (particularly with the backdrop of the Euro imploding) sounded like the work of an over-earnest undergraduate in the early aughts. The economic analysis was, to put it mildly, based on highly disputed assumptions, and the eccentric recommendation of the Tobin tax (while a reasonable policy proposal for debate) is a rather down-in-the-weeds wonky detail for an otherwise ‘big picture’ document. I’m sure the authors were well intentioned; and, naturally, it wasn’t all bad. But it was pretty embarrassing all the same, and it’s hard for me to believe there wasn’t a little blushing going on even as it was seized upon as a tool for bludgeoning the dreaded conservative Catholics.

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