Beginning with the Council of Nicaea, the Catholic Church has forbidden usury, in some way or form, for most of its history. (And usury was most often strictly defined as charging any kind of interest on a loan (“making money from money”), and not simply charging excessive interest, as the term is used today.)
For centuries, the money-lender was forbidden a Christian burial. One of the most consequential effects of this was that Europe’s Jews filled this tabooed market niche, resulting in intense resentment on the part many Christians...and unfathomable power for certain Jewish families, Frankfurt’s House of Rothschild being the most (in)famous.
The Church, of course, eventually came to terms with finance in its own way, as evidenced by the Papal Coronation of Leo X—formerly Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici.
Whatever the twists and turns of this history might be, it remains deeply ironic that in 2011, the Vatican has explicitly called for the creation of a massive new usurious bank with “universal jurisdiction.”
The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.
“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.
It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems. “In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” it said, adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.
1) Contrary to what is reported, I don’t think the Vatican’s call will have any appeal to Occupy Wall Street, and not simply due to anti-Catholic bigotry. To the OWSs credit, they are unitedly anti-Federal Reserve System (from what I can tell, at least). I’ve seen many signs reading something to the effect,“Congress should issue currency, not the banking system!” The prospect of a Global Bernanke would likely horrify them.
2) Don’t we already have the World Bank and IMF? Does the Pope want a Universe Bank that would make loans to the World Bank?
3) The Vatican’s Note laments the great concentration of wealth in the financial sector—certainly a valid concern! And yet, this has occurred in the context of a global system of Central Banking, and one in which the U.S. Fed, which has loaned trillions to foreign banks, has acted very much like the “global authority” the Vatican describes. Indeed, the Goldman Sachses and Citigroups of this world would have been blessedly destroyed in 2008 (or at least dramatically weakened) were it not for The Bernanke’s ability to bail them out through money creation.
The secondary irony of all this is that, much as the Church unwittingly empowered non-Christians (that is, the Jews) through its forbiddance of usury in the Middle Ages, if its latest plan were enacted, the clear winners would be...the Banksters, who would go wild with a global bank blessed by the Holy Father.
Bellow is a translation of a meaty section from the Vatican’s Note (which is worth reading in its entirety, by the way, as it offers an intelligent recounting of recent economic history):
On the way to building a more fraternal and just human family and, even before that, a new humanism open to transcendence, Blessed John XXIII’s teaching seems especially timely. In the prophetic Encyclical Pacem in Terris of 1963, he observed that the world was heading towards ever greater unification. He then acknowledged the fact that a correspondence was lacking in the human community between the political organization “on a world level and the objective needs of the universal common good”. He also expressed the hope that one day “a true world political authority” would be created.
In view of the unification of the world engendered by the complex phenomenon of globalization, and of the importance of guaranteeing, in addition to other collective goods, the good of a free, stable world economic and financial system at the service of the real economy, today the teaching of Pacem in Terris appears to be even more vital and worthy of urgent implementation.
In the same spirit of Pacem in Terris, Benedict XVI himself expressed the need to create a world political authority. This seems obvious if we consider the fact that the agenda of questions to be dealt with globally is becoming ever longer. Think, for example, of peace and security; disarmament and arms control; promotion and protection of fundamental human rights; management of the economy and development policies; management of the migratory flows and food security, and protection of the environment. In all these areas, the growing interdependence between States and regions of the world becomes more and more obvious as well as the need for answers that are not just sectorial and isolated, but systematic and integrated, rich in solidarity and subsidiarity and geared to the universal common good.
As the Pope reminds us, if this road is not followed, “despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations.”
Later today, the Catholic conserva-sphere will, no doubt, issue forth blogs and articles about how the Vatican doesn’t really mean what everyone thinks it means, or that global government would be enacted in accordance with the Church’s concept of Subsidiarity, which balances human freedom and solidarity, etc.
But let’s just take the Vatican at its word. It sounds like it wants a New World Order to me!