Vatican Urges Major Economic Reform

October 25, 2011 - 2:36 PM
Vatican Pope

Pope Benedict XVI stands on a mobile platform as he leaves St. Peter's Basilica at the end of a mass at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Vatican City (AP) — The Vatican called Monday for radical reform of the world's financial systems, including the creation of a global political authority to manage the economy.

A proposal by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace calls for a new world economic order based on ethics and the "achievement of a universal common good." It follows Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 economic encyclical that denounced a profit-at-all-cost mentality as responsible for the global financial meltdown.

The proposal acknowledges, however, that a "long road still needs to be traveled before arriving at the creation of a public authority with universal jurisdiction" and suggests the reform process begin with the United Nations as a point of reference.

Vatican pronouncements on the economy are meant to guide world leaders as well as the global church. United States Roman Catholic bishops, for example, have released a voter guide for the 2012 election that highlights social concerns such as ending poverty.

"It is an exercise of responsibility not only toward the current but above all toward future generations, so that hope for a better future and confidence in human dignity and capacity for good may never be extinguished," the document said.

It highlights that reforms must assure that financial and monetary policies will not damage the weakest economies while also achieving fair distribution of the world's wealth.

The proposal also called for a "minimum, shared body of rules to manage the global financial market," lamenting the "overall abrogation of controls" on capital movements.

While past Vatican pronouncements have condemned unfettered capitalism, the latest criticized "an economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls."

It also attacked "utilitarian thinking," saying what is useful to the individual does not always favor the common good.