The Vatican’s recent assessment of the economy reveals a vibrant, engaging and relevant Catholic Church.
This reflects a Catholic Church that sees the suffering of our financial system as the Church provides aid to hurricane victims, refugees and the homeless. The document is linked to a church working with other faiths in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean calling for transparency, help and an end to poverty. It lights up the church which in 1999 helped bring together 27 million petitions for the Cologne G-8 Summit, the forum of the world’s leading industrial nations, urging the cancellation of the debt burden in Africa and the world. developing world.
Not only do we see the continued application of Catholic teaching to understand our economy, but the publication is the culmination of decades of the Holy See’s efforts to reduce poverty through the United Nations, the United Nations, the United Nations. global trade and decision-making forums around the world.
“Considerations for an ethical discernment concerning certain aspects of the current economic and financial system” (Oeconomicae et pecuniariae questiones) shows a church spreading the Gospel outside our church buildings and in the marketplace. The 15-page press release from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development shows that a church is relevant to current economic policy debates.
While a reader may sometimes wish there was a glossary of terms, it would be a mistake to assume that this is a theoretical document. The technical language of finance may sound complicated, but its use demonstrates that this document seeks to engage in real policies – the policies debated in the US Congress, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and summit meetings. These economic policies impact our lives almost as much as the oxygen we breathe, and yet too often, because of the jargon, we leave these conversations to lawyers, economists and investors.
The Vatican document raises the reality that God has given us a rich and bountiful world so that each of us can reach our full potential and that we are closest to the Creator when we share these resources with each other.
The “Considerations” document is not limited by conservative or progressive economic theories – although we do see a clear conservative focus on its goals of freedom, individual rights and calls for greater financial transparency, management and accountability. .
Most surprising in the press release are the serious warnings that the Holy See is issuing about the global financial crisis. Recent reports from the IMF and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) echo the Vatican document, which says:
The recent financial crisis could have been an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities that would neutralize predatory and speculative trends and recognize the value of the current economy … the answer sometimes seems a return to the heights of myopic egoism, limited by an inadequate framework which, excluding the common good, also excludes from its horizons the concern to create and spread wealth, and to eliminate the inequality so pronounced today.
From there, the document explores technical policies related to the prevention of financial crises and the fight against inequalities. The paper explores the need to limit speculative, risky and predatory behavior. The debate over this behavior in Congress revolves around the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
When risky behavior was associated with a debt crisis, we had the recipe for a financial crisis that plunged over 100 million people, mostly women and children, into extreme poverty. The statement urges us to stop the “shadow banking system” and provide processes that “confront each country with its inevitable responsibility to authorize and promote reasonable routes out of debt spirals, without placing it on the shoulders of … Millions of families. Bear unsustainable financial burdens. “
In terms of financing the development of each human person and the fight against global inequalities, the Vatican is tackling ethical considerations around taxation, tax havens, tax evasion and corruption. The document affirms the need for states to collect adequate taxes to meet the needs of their populations. The Holy See is intensifying and deepening its concerns about tax havens or “relocations”. Every year the developing world loses a trillion dollars to tax evasion and corruption. The church highlights these concerns as the G-7, G-20, UN and IMF examine solutions for these revenue leaks to the developing world. These questions are being raised as Europe puts in place stricter guidelines to prevent tax evasion and corruption and as Congress reviews the corporate transparency law.
Ultimately, this teaching presents a challenge for us collectively and an invitation for each of us personally.
The global economy must help each individual achieve their full potential, and each individual must rise up to actively shape the economy to that end. The Vatican Economic Document affirms our responsibility to understand that “what is morally unacceptable is not simply to profit, but rather to avail oneself of inequality for one’s own benefit, in order to create huge profits that harm others. “.
In conclusion, the document offers each of us the invitation: “Faced with the massiveness and omnipresence of today’s economic and financial systems, we might be tempted to abandon ourselves to cynicism, and to think that with our poor strength there is not much we can do. In fact, each of us can do so much, especially if we are not left alone. “
[Eric LeCompte is the executive director of Jubilee USA Network.]