A month ago, on October 24, the Vatican issued a curious document calling for the creation of a “supranational global political Authority” and a central world bank to manage and cure the ills of the world’s economies.
The proposal, “Note on the reform of the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority” (henceforth, “The Note”), also calls for a global “Robbin Hood” tax on financial transactions, called a “Tobin tax” after the name of its creator. This idea immediately was picked up by the UK’s Anglican primate Rowan Williams, who wrote an approving op/ed in the Financial Times. At the G20 summit in Cannes, the idea of this tax also popped up in some of the comments of Barack Obama and French president Nicholas Sarkozy, but nothing concrete was done about it.
Given the timing as well as the substance of The Note, which blames the ills of the global economy on the “excesses” of capitalism and reeks of a redux of the revolutionary socialist Liberation Theology that the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II had explicitly abjured, many around the world saw the Vatican as lending support to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Note was not authored by the Pope but by the left-wing Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), headed by 63-year-old native of Ghana, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, who had been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Nevertheless, the PCJP is a part of the Roman Curia or the Holy See — the “episcopal jurisdiction” or central government of the Roman Catholic Church — and The Note liberally references and quotes past and present popes. Given all this, one could only conclude that The Note has the pope’s approval.
Ten days after the publication of The Note, on November 4 in the Vatican, an emergency summit convened in the Roman Curia’s secretariat of state. The reason for the meeting: to do damage control on The Note that had disturbed many, inside and outside of the Vatican.
The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 76, complained that he had not known about The Note until the last moment. Nor does the document have his approval. The summit concluded with an issuance of a “binding order” that would be transmitted to all of the offices of the curia: henceforth, nothing in writing would be released unless it had been inspected and authorized by the secretariat of state.
However, Chiesa Expresso’s reporter Sandro Magister rightly points out that:
“Of course, the fact that Bertone and his colleagues had seen that document only after its publication is astonishing in itself.
Already on October 19, in fact, five days ahead of time, the Vatican press office – which reports directly to the secretary of state – had made the announcement of the press conference to present the document, at which the speakers would be Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the pontifical council for justice and peace, and Bishop Mario Toso, the council’s secretary.
Toso, a Salesian like Bertone and his longtime friend, was chosen for this office by the cardinal secretary of state himself.”
What all this means is I had suspected. The Catholic Church, like every organization, is factionalized. The Note is the work of a liberal faction within the Vatican, whose views, beliefs and prescriptions are not those of the Church’s Secretariat of State.
Given the advanced age of Pope Benedict XVI (he will be 85 years old next April), factional differences and contention as displayed in the disagreement over The Note are not insignificant and promise to shape the future direction of the Church itself.
As a footnote, the Holy See is located in Vatican City, Rome. For the central government of the Catholic Church, the Holy See has a very small staff of 2,750 employees, most of whom work in departments and offices scattered throughout the city of Rome. Only one office — the Secretariat of State — is situated within Vatican City.
For many months now, every day, without fail, our ClustrMap tells us that Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM) is read by someone(s) in the Holy See, Vatican City. Since the Secretariat of State is the only department of the Holy See which is physically located in Vatican City, I can only assume that whoever that checks in with FOTM every day is someone from the Secretariat of State.
This blog is honored to receive the attention.