Pope Benedict XVI arrives for his weekly general audience on July 8, 2009 at Paul VI hall at The Vatican. The pontiff called the day before and on the eve of a G8 summit in L’Aquila, for a new world body “with real teeth” to restore the global economy and prevent further disparities in a letter to Roman Catholics worldwide. Getty Images
POPE Benedict XVI has proposed a new world political authority “with real teeth”
by Barney Zwartz
POPE Benedict XVI has proposed a new world political authority “with real teeth”, possibly in place of the United Nations, to enforce an ethical financial order and end the global financial crisis.
Calling for more aid, a bigger role for trade unions and an economic system aimed at the common good as well as profit, the Pope said only a moral market could end the crisis and solve world poverty.
The proposals were in his long-awaited encyclical – the second-highest level of papal teaching – released in Rome yesterday morning Australian time, before the G8 leaders gathered in Italy to discuss the global crisis.
The conviction that the economy must be autonomous and shielded from moral influences had led humanity to abuse the economic process in a destructive way, the Pope said in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).
Such convictions had led to economic, social and political systems that “trample upon personal and social freedom” and could not deliver justice.
His suggested political authority would manage globalisation, revive economies, stop the crisis deepening, protect the environment and regulate worldwide migration. It would need to be universally recognised and given power to ensure compliance from all countries.
“In terms of secular politics, there’s something for both left and right to cheer, and something for them to be grumpy about,” said the respected Vatican commentator John Allen, observing that in 30,000 words the Pope never mentioned the word “capitalism”.
He said liberals would applaud the Pope’s call for robust government intervention and support for unions, while conservatives would appreciate his unyielding opposition to abortion, birth control and gay marriage, on economic as well as moral grounds.
The Pope, 82, in his third encyclical, wrote that when profit became the exclusive goal, without the common good as its ultimate end, it risked destroying wealth and creating poverty.
The world’s wealth was growing but so was inequality. Aid to developing countries also provided economic benefits to donors, he said.
The Pope said the Church did not have technical solutions, but he offered a large number of specific policy suggestions.
One was that people should be allowed to decide how to allocate a portion of their taxes that would help welfare and aid. Another was that trade unions should also work for non-members, particularly workers in developing countries.
“As society becomes ever more globalised, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers,” he said.