The Vatican’s Radical Ideas on Financial Reform

Those politicians who think the Dodd-Frank law went too far in attempting to reform Wall Street will likely need smelling salts after taking a look at a proposal for reforming the global financial system that was released by the Vatican on Monday. The proposal’s centerpiece is a call for the formation of a global political authority that would, among other things, possess broad powers to regulate financial markets. The reality of globalization, says the document, necessitates a “gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities.” The Vatican envisions this global authority playing a role not just in overseeing financial markets, but also disarmament and arms control, food security and peace efforts.

Calling into question the entire foundation of neo-liberal economics and proposing one world financial order? You never know what those radicals over at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace will come up with next.

The 41-page document, “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority,” (it’s no wordier than some of the signs at the protests) can be seen as a practical extension of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. In that document, Benedict argued that there is “an urgent need of a true world political authority” to address problems of economic inequality both within and between countries. Writing in the wake of the financial meltdown, Benedict identified the roots of the crisis as economic, financial, and also moral. It is not possible, he suggested, to pursue the common good while also glorifying the values of utilitarianism and individualism. [more]