Vatican offices decry ‘profoundly amoral culture’ of global financial system

Vatican offices decry ‘profoundly amoral culture’ of global financial system

Vatican City — Two Vatican offices have taken the global financial system to task, decrying in a new document the way markets primarily serve the world’s wealthiest minority and stress profit to an extent that creates “a profoundly amoral culture.”

In a joint venture giving theological weight to Pope Francis’ frequent criticism that “this economy kills,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development also warn that global markets are returning to past heights of “myopic egoism” ten years after the financial crisis of 2008.

“Markets, the powerful propeller of the economy, are not capable of governing themselves,” the Vatican offices state in the document, titled Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones and released May 17.

“It is time to initiate the recovery of what is authentically human, to expand the horizons of minds and hearts,” they say. “It is … the duty of the competent agents and of those responsible to develop new forms of the economy and of finance, with rules and regulations that are directed towards the progress of the common good.”

The new document, given the subtitle “Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System,” fleshes out many of the critiques Francis has made of the capitalist system throughout his five-year papacy.

Over 16 pages, the two Vatican offices address both the overall vision of the world’s market system and some of the technical aspects of finance that they say are worsening global inequality.

The dicasteries also place Francis’ teachings firmly in the wider tradition of Catholic social doctrine, citing extensively from dozens of prior papal documents addressing economic issues, such as Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno, Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio, John Paul II’s Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate.

While the document acknowledges that many financiers and stock traders are “animated by good and right intentions,” it says global markets have become “a place where selfishness and the abuse of power have the potential to harm the community beyond match.”

This breaking news story is being updated.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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