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!


Posted on October 25, 2011, in Bad Shepherds, Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. When I heard of this “latest from the Vatican” announcement, I knew it was crap. Unless the Pope himself is speaking directly to the people, I ignore these things. However the Holy Father could clear up a lot of confusion by forbidding these minor commissions from issueing any press release unless he can check out their scribblings first.

    • Stephen, I think there are two sites of the problem: the press making the noise and some parts of the Vatican not disliking it…

      If you ask me, during JP II’s papacy they developed this to a fine art, and Federico Lombardi is a rather engaged artist… He didn’t linked his name to this of course, but note that he has still not issued any vigorous correction after the news went around the world.


  2. I’m a longtime reader and this is (obviously) my first comment, but I think my favorite part about this is that liberals, who have spent the better part of the last 50 years finding new ways for Papal statements that were explicitly called infallible to be completely open to rejection, are now hailing this as utterly immutable word of God Himself.

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