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Is the Vatican for a world government?

Written by Alain Pilote on Sunday, 01 January 2012. Posted in World Government

Controversy over a document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

On October 24, 2011, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, one of the agencies of the Vatican, published a 41-page "Note" entitled Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, as a contribution to the G20 summit in France, on Nov. 3-4. This document was presented in a press conference in the Vatican by Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Council, its secretary, Bishop Mario Toso, and University of Rome "Tor Vergata" economics professor, Leonardo Becchetti.

Becchetti is considered to be the main author of this document which, contrary to other texts of the Magisterium of the Church, does not confine itself to principles, but offer solutions that are both technical… and controversial, to say the least, and have provoked strong reactions, even inside the Vatican.

Judge for yourself: this document calls for a "global government", the "requirement for a body that will carry out the functions of a kind of central world bank that regulates the flow and system of monetary exchanges, as do the national central banks."

One can also read this: "The time has come to conceive of institutions with universal competence… It is the task of today's generation to recognize and consciously to accept these new world dynamics for the achievement of a universal common good. Of course, this transformation will be made at the cost of a gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation's powers to a world Authority and to regional Authorities…"

One fact may explain the enthusiasm of Professor Becchetti for a world government: he has a M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics, which was founded in 1895 by Sydney Webb to promote Marxist socialism via gradualist means. This is called the Fabianist way.

You can imagine that such words — world government and central world bank — would not go unnoticed in the news media, which hastened to publish articles with the headline: "The Vatican is for a world government"!

The truth is that the Vatican, and especially the Popes throughout the centuries, are not for a centralized global government, and have always promoted the principle of subsidiarity; where higher levels of governments serve the human person and lower levels of governments, which are closer to the individuals and families.

Besides, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who was present at the press conference, emphasized that the document was "not an expression of papal magisterium," but instead was an "authoritative note of a Vatican agency." In that sense, he said, it would not be correct to report that "Pope Benedict says" what is in the document, he said.

The purpose of this document is to stimulate reflection on the search for technical solutions that are in keeping with the social doctrine of the Church. The faithful may have various opinions on the ways to apply the principles of the Church: for example, when this document suggests to tax international financial transactions (the so-called "Tobin Tax", which was suggested for the first time in 1972 by Economics Nobel Prize winner James Tobin), it does not oblige all Catholics to agree with the Tobin Tax, it is obviously not a matter of faith!

Reactions in the Vatican to this document were quick to follow. Italian journalist Sandro Magister, a specialist on Vatican issues for the magazine L'Espresso, published on Nov. 10 on his website an article titled Too Much Confusion. Bertone Puts the Curia Under Lock and Key. Here are excerpts from this article:

"The document of Justitia et Pax on the global financial crisis is blasted with criticism. The secretary of state disowns it. L'Osservatore Romano tears it to shreds. From now on, any new Vatican text will have to be authorized in advance by the cardinal.

"Precisely when the G20 summit in Cannes was coming to its weak and uncertain conclusion on that same Friday, November 4th, at the Vatican a smaller summit convened in the secretariat of state was doing damage control on the latest of many moments of confusion in the Roman curia. In the hot seat was the document on the global financial crisis released ten days earlier by the pontifical council for justice and peace. This is a document that has disturbed many, inside and outside of the Vatican.

"The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, complained that he had not known about it until the last moment and precisely for this reason he had called that meeting in the secretariat of state. The conclusion of the summit was that this binding order would be transmitted to all of the offices of the curia: from that point on, nothing in writing would be released unless it had been inspected and authorized by the secretariat of state.

"What has been even more irritating for many authoritative readers of the document of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is the fact that it is in glaring contradiction with Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate. In the encyclical, Pope Benedict does not in any way call for a'public authority with universal competency'over politics and the economy, that sort of great Leviathan (no telling who gets the throne, or how) so dear to the document of October 24th.

"In Caritas in Veritate the Pope speaks more properly of the'governance'(meaning regulation,'moderamen'in Latin) of globalization, through subsidiary and polyarchic institutions. Nothing at all like a monocratic world government." (End of Sandro Magister's quote.)

Here is what was published in the August 2009 issue of MICHAEL about these words of Pope Benedict XVI reported in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate:

The news media retained only one line of Pope Benedict XVI's latest encyclical. Many of them ran the following headline: the Pope is for a "world political authority" or even a "one-world government." But the reality is quite the opposite.

The Holy Father speaks directly against a world government that would abolish national States and here we quote an excellent explanation from editorialist John-Henry Westen of

"Confusion seems to have come from Paragraph 67 of the encyclical, which has some choice pull-quotes which have spiced the pages of the world's news, from the New York Times to those of conspiracy theorist bloggers seeing the Pope as the Anti-Christ. The key quote which has led to the charge reads:'To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.'

"However in Paragraph 41, the Holy Father specifically differentiates his concept of a world political authority from that of a one-world government.'We must,'he says'promote a dispersed political authority.'He explains that,'The integrated economy of the present day does not make the role of States redundant, but rather it commits governments to greater collaboration with one another. Both wisdom and prudence suggest not being too precipitous in declaring the demise of the State. In terms of the resolution of the current crisis, the State's role seems destined to grow, as it regains many of its competences. In some nations, moreover, the construction or reconstruction of the State remains a key factor in their development.'

"Later in the encyclical (57) he speaks of the opposite concept to one-world government — subsidiarity (the principle of Catholic social teaching which states that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority) — as being essential.'In order not to produce a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature, the governance of globalization must be marked by subsidiarity,'says the Pope." (End of the quote from

At the beginning of Paragraph 67, Pope Benedict explains that the "world political authority" that needs to be reformed — a need that was mentioned by John XXIII in Pacem in Terris and Paul VI in Populorum Progressio — is the United Nations: "there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."

There is no question of turning the United Nations into a one-world government that will eliminate nation States, it is only about creating a place where heads of states and representatives of nations could meet and talk to each other. All the while respecting the concept of "family of nations" with each country continuing to exist and keep its sovereignty.

As Michael O'Brian wrote in Benedict's encyclical intends no more, and no less, than encouragement of increased international cooperation, a mutual compact of nations that would create governing agencies to administer the shared interests of those nations for the common good of mankind.

He certainly did not urge the establishment of a global super-State, for in his other writings and talks he has strongly critiqued this very form of government, which the Note asserts he does promote. In fact, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have repeatedly warned about the grave dangers inherent in such a project.

On May 17, 2001, Pope John Paul II spoke about globalization to the 300 participants of a meeting promoted by the Ethics of Economy Foundation of Basano del Grappa, Italy:

"Globalization is no doubt a phenomenon which allows for great possibilities for growth and producing riches, but many also admit that per se it does not assure fair distribution of goods among the citizens of various countries. In reality, the wealth produced often remains in the hands of only a few, with a consequent further loss of sovereignty of national States, already rather weak in the area of development, and leads up to a global system governed by a few centers in the hands of private individuals. Free market is, without a doubt, an irrevocable character of our times, but there also exists, however, imperative human needs that cannot be left at the mercy of this perspective, with the risk of being absorbed."

Alain Pilote

John Paul II concluded that "man must be the protagonist, not the slave, of the means of production," and that globalization is "a phenomenon which is intrinsically ambivalent, halfway between a potential good for mankind and social damage with serious consequences."


About the Author

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote

Alain Pilote has been the editor of the English edition of MICHAEL for several years. Twice a year we organize a week of study of the social doctrine of the Church and its application and Mr. Pilote is the instructor during these sessions.


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