Aftermath: Pope’s Top Cardinal Forbids Justice & Peace From Issuing Documents Without Permission [Updated]

Very notable news, via Vatican expert Sandro Magister, following the aftermath of the Justice & Peace’s ill-advised white paper (emphasis mine):

Precisely when the G20 summit in Cannes was coming to its weak and uncertain conclusion, on that same Friday, November 4 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. A document that had 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.

Liberal Catholics were quick to try to claim this document somehow represented the authoritative teaching of the Church (and Pope Benedict himself), and attempted to criticize orthodox Catholics who accurately presented the document as enjoying little authority as somehow being “cafeteria catholics.”

Well, the ball is back in their court now, and I (and others) haven’t changed our position. The additional reporting by Magister only make more clear how right we were in our analysis:

“…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 Joseph Ratzinger 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 24.

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.

When one then delves into the analyses and specific proposals, it is also stunning how strong the divergence is between what is written in the document of the pontifical council for justice and peace and what has been maintained for some time in the financial commentaries published in “L’Osservatore Romano” by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, the Vatican bank, also chosen for his post by Cardinal Bertone.

… It was easy to predict that Gotti Tedeschi would not remain silent. And in fact, on November 4 – the same day as the summit convened by Bertone in the secretariat of state – “L’Osservatore Romano” published an editorial by Tedeschi that reads like a complete repudiation of the document of the pontifical council for justice and peace.

Magister goes on to reproduce the entirety of Tedeshi’s editorial criticizing the Justice and Peace white paper. (I’ve showcased Tedeshi’s excellent analysis of economic topics on these pages before.)

It’s clear from Magister’s reporting that the consternation over the document is shared not only by orthodox Catholics here in the U.S., but also by top curial officials within the Vatican. The secretary of state Cardinal Bertone has “disowned” it, the L’Osservatore Romano “tears it to shreds” and from now on, any new text issued by Justice and Peace will “have to be authorized in advance by the cardinal.”

The publication of this document, if anything, showcases the influence in Justice and Peace of outside progressive economists/thinkers (such as Professor Leonardo Beccheti, whom Magister and I have mentioned as the likely author of the most flawed aspects of the document) as well as mismanagement of how the pontifical council is run and overseen. It does not represent an example of Pope Benedict’s authoritative teaching office, as I and others said from the outset.

So, for all the liberal Catholics who tried to claim that this white paper represented the thought and position of the “Vatican” and Pope Benedict, what do you have to say now?

Once again, we see that orthodox Catholics didn’t twist and misrepresent the Church’s teaching on an important issue … liberal Catholics did.

It’s time for liberal Catholics to own up to their mistaken interpretation of this white paper. I’ll be waiting.



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  • steven

    Thomas: it might be appropriate to comment on just what the Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace is actually tasked with. I agree that it looks like ‘bad management’, when you have such a large organization this can happen-we get that. Is this curial ‘department’ over stepping its boundaries?

  • Charlotte

    This may not be relevant to the discussion but on one of the political blogs I found comments which relate to our Catholic faith such as: Mary is prayed more to than Jesus…
    I have to admit, I have seen people go first directly to the statue of the Blessed Mother rather than the Blessed Sacrament and praying the rosary during Mass. Has there been any discussions within the church about Medjugore? It’s hard for me to comprehend how long this has been going on. I just can’t believe in it. Any input? Thanks.

  • Kim

    Our diocesan newspaper, CATHOLIC SPIRIT, in the diocese of Austin, TX ran a couple of large articles this month about this issue of the whitepapers. We were so outraged that such a thing could be printed with the “blessing” of the editorial staff that it causes one to lose hope that the church will be able to overcome the forces of evil that are present within it. How could the bishop have allowed it? Why isn’t the staff person responsible fired for printing lies? Why is this author still at the Vatican? I am so tired of explaining to others whom I am trying to Evangelize that the church has the fullness of truth but just allows liars to confuse us for…????
    This was my first issue – although I don’t know how I started getting it and I intend to discontinue it immediately.
    May God have mercy on us all.

  • David Jackson

    Hope you also publish the most recent article on this subject published by CNS.



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