Daily Archives: October 25, 2011

The Inner Contradiction Of Assisi III

King Theoden, facing the impending Assisi III meeting

To say it with King Theoden, “and so it begins”: the dreaded Assisi III is upon us.

I cannot avoid noticing that in these last days, the secular/atheist press has given some space (more than I ever dared to dream) to the criticism from conservative Catholics of the past Assisi exercises, and the efforts made by the Holy Father to make things differently. You find in the so-called “Guardian” one of the frequent examples of the last weeks.

One cannot avoid a smile at seeing that the numerically still small fraction of conservatively minded Catholics is now so much in the centre stage of Catholic life that even the dark red “Guardian” notices its presence. Still, it seems to me that already today – and very probably, more so in the next days – it can be easily said that this Assisi gathering brings to the light the mistakes of the past ones. In his effort to let people know how to do it right, the Holy Father brings to the attention of the Catholic world how, in the past, it was made wrong. This, of course, provided that this gathering doesn’t give rise to scandals, which – though I am personally half-optimist, as long as I can – remains to be seen. 

If Assisi I and Assisi II were right, then there was no necessity to point out to the differences. If they were wrong, then I continue not to see the necessity of, one generation later, informing the Catholic planet of the fact. It seems to me a bit as if the Vatican would promote a new and orthodox version of Jansenism in order to show that what was done wrongly in the past can be done rightly in the future.

Add to this that I am very afraid to be submerged by the worst possible “we are the world” rhetoric, the piercing smell of peace and love molasses already reaching these not-so-delicate ears.

We will see how this pans out. I trust that it will not be anything anywhere similar to the 1986 gatherings in his heretic potential, but I am afraid that it will still be much different from how Conservative Catholics would have done it.

If they thought they had to do it, that is; which I personally don’t believe at all.


Rumours of Hippy Pope Unfounded

Official: No Vatican tents.

No prelates in the tents, it transpired.

If you need proof of the spectacular stupidity of the mass media – particularly in these times of desperate need of headlines and 12-second attention span – you need to look no further than to the reaction of the press to the alleged “Vatican document” allegedly expressing itself for an alleged “world bank” able to run the financial world like, erm, Snow White would.

The mediocrity of this kind of information has been already exposed on several sites, but I particularly liked this one, from the pen of Georg Weigel. I allow myself to quote some of the most interesting phrases:

Drudge got it wrong: “Vatican Calls for ‘Central World Bank’.” CNBC got it wrong: “The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank’.” The best of the Italian Vaticanisti, Sandro Magister of L’espresso, linked Occupy Wall Street and “the Vatican at the Barricades” in the headline of his insta-commentary, a theme also harped upon by the deposed editor of America, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.

All of which was “rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.”

The truth of the matter is that “the Vatican” — whether that phrase is intended to mean the Pope, the Holy See, the Church’s teaching authority, or the Church’s central structures of governance — called for precisely nothing in this document. The document is a “Note” from a rather small office in the Roman Curia. The document’s specific recommendations do not necessarily reflect the settled views of the senior authorities of the Holy See

Both Cardinal Turkson and Bishop Toso indicated, in line with long-standing Catholic social doctrine, that the Church-as-Church was incompetent to offer “technical solutions” but rather wished to locate public policy debates within the proper moral frameworks.

To suggest, as most of the immediate reporting and commentary did, that the Catholic Church was endorsing one or another set of proposals for re-ordering international finance, and was doing so as a matter of exercising its doctrinal authority, was a very bad category mistake, reflecting either the pitfalls of instant analysis in the 24/7 news cycle, progressivist-Catholic spin, or both.

Bottom line (so to speak): This brief document from the lower echelons of the Roman Curia no more aligns “the Vatican,” the Pope, or the Catholic Church with Occupy Wall Street than does the Nicene Creed. Those who suggest it does are either grossly ill-informed or tendentious to a point of irresponsibility.

I thought it fitting to give some words of warning, as the obsession with the “news” and the instant-headline, which doesn’t even spare the likes of Magister, is making more and more damage.

I also bring to your attention that such an institution as the one – if you ask me, very naively; and I am being gentle – envisioned by Cardinal Turkson and Bishop Toso would in fact create the most powerful, illiberal, oppressive istitution on the planet, deciding on the economic destiny of billions without the, well, planet having a say in what they do. A socialist dream come true…

These days, you don’t need to have had an introduction to macroeconomics to understand that the moves of central banks do decide of success or failure, prosperity or recession, of entire nations, and that a world bank with a world economic policy would be tantamount to a world dictatorship of bureaucrats. But who cares, provided it sounds nice and lets one feel so good…..

The kind of world monetary government suggested by our two heroes reminds one strongly of the discussions of children in kindergarten about how they would regulate the world economy, or what they would do to avoid wars. It would be, in my eyes, a good move if the higher echelons of the Vatican would suggest that in future, churchmen limit themselves to doing their job, rather than trying to get some popularity by improvising a competence they just don’t have and blatantly ignoring the simplest bases of freedom, popular sovereignty and self-determination.

Sutor, ne ultra crepidam!


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