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.




  • Helen

    CatholicVote will surely be owning up to their (ridiculous) misinterpretation of the (now non-existent) Christmas tree “tax” that was never actually a tax…right?

  • Frances

    Thanks for posting. This is much more than liberal Catholics at work. So maybe the light has finally fallen over onto this particular council of justice and peace.

  • Everett

    The more disturbing thing to me about this whole thing is the timeline and that somehow the Secretary of State/other curia members had no idea what was going on in all of this.

  • davide

    thank you Tom, but i understand the different levels of Church teaching and I know how silly secular (AKA modernists, liberal or progressive) Catholics can be. I was confused over the whole think. It is my understanding that Cardinal Peter T. is over the department that released the statement, also understand the Holy Father nor the S of S approve this thing (the white letter). I am confused because I would consider Cardinal Pete to be a orthodox Catholic. At any rate this kind reminds me of the condom thing about this same time last year. I guess it appears to me the Holy See (not the Vatican) has a huge public relations problem. Ok thanks Tom. PS i could use a couple of prayers. I have an earache and it hurts!

  • Pingback: Cardinal Bertone sets new rules in light of Justice and Peace debacle « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics



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