Vatican calls for ‘central world bank’

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
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In a statement Monday, the Vatican called for major reforms in the world financial system, asking for a “global public authority” to rule over institutions responsible for “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development.”

Prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the 41-page document, entitled “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority,” emphasized the need for a global monetary policy body removed from national interest.

The statement even listed specific reforms, including a tax on financial transactions and making bailouts conditional on “virtuous” behavior from banks.

Condemning “the idolatry of the market,” the report said the economic downturn “revealed behaviors like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale.”

In what might have been a reference to Occupy Wall Street, the Vatican warned, “if no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid.”

But when the head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace council was asked if the statement was a veiled endorsement for the anti-capitalist movements that have sprung up around the globe, Cardinal Peter Turkson would not name names, though he did not distance the Holy See from the protesters’ gripes.

“The people on Wall Street need to sit down and go through a process of discernment and see whether their role managing the finances of the world is actually serving the interests of humanity and the common good.

“We are calling for all these bodies and organizations to sit down and do a little bit of re-thinking.”

The report quoted the social teachings of several popes, including Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” which professed “an urgent need of a true world political authority,” and delved into such un-theological subjects as cyber liberties and intellectual property reform.

Still, the council’s urging for a “minimum shared body of rules to manage the global financial market” and “some form of global monetary management” mark a significant transition in tone from the Vatican.

“In fact, one can see an emerging 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 similar to the national central banks,” the report said.

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