[Marxism] Re: A critique of the pope and some comments

Lueko Willms l.willms at jpberlin.de
Thu Apr 7 13:22:00 MDT 2005

.     Am  07.04.05
 schrieb  L.Willms at JPBERLIN.de (Lueko Willms)
     bei  marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
      in  9UPgF-weflB at jpberlin-l.willms.jpberlin.de
   ueber  Re: A critique of the pope and some comments

LW>   So, actually I wanted to write only a very short introduction to a
LW> number of other articles which I found, mainly from the NYTR mailing
LW> list, but I will append them as separate messages.
LW>   The first is an article on the stand apparently taken by John Paul
LW> II on economic matters,

--------- schnipp -----------------------------------------

Foreign Policy In Focus - Apr 5, 2005

FPIF Commentary

John Paul II's Economic Ethics

By Mark Engler

A steady feature in Pope John Paul II's obituaries has been mention of
his unwaveringly conservative stances on issues such as abortion,
birth control, gay rights, and the ordination of women. While these
positions were sources of consternation for many American Catholics,
they far from represent the whole of John Paul's ethical beliefs.
Particularly in his teachings about the global economy, the Pope
advanced a vision of social justice that challenges the current,
narrow political debate about "moral values."

Many commentators have highlighted the Pope's extensive travels
throughout the world and his use of advanced telecommunications to
spread his message. Less noted is the fact that John Paul's vision of
globalization sharply countered the pro-corporate triumphalism spread
by "free trade" boosters.

Reflecting on the process of globalization during his 1998 visit to
Cuba, the Pope contended that the world is "witnessing the resurgence
of a certain capitalist neoliberalism, which subordinates the human
person to blind market forces." He claimed that "from its centers of
power, such neoliberalism often places unbearable burdens upon less
favored countries." And he remarked with concern that "at times,
unsustainable economic programs are imposed on nations as a condition
for further assistance."

Coming at a moment when protests against the type of "structural
adjustment" mandated by the U.S.-dominated World Bank and
International Monetary Fund were beginning to make headlines, the
targets of John Paul's condemnation were not mysterious. Because of
such economic policies, the Pope argued, we "see a small number of
countries growing exceedingly rich at the cost of the increasing
impoverishment of a great number of other countries; as a result the
wealthy grow ever wealthier, while the poor grow ever poorer."

John Paul elaborated on his arguments in his 1999 exhortation,
Ecclesia in America. There he asserted that the increasing global
integration of the current era presents an opportunity for progress.
"However," he warned, "if globalization is ruled merely by the laws of
the market applied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot but
be negative." He spoke out against "unfair competition, which puts the
poor nations in a situation of ever increasing inferiority."

The Pope's sentiments reflected the church's wider understanding of
political economy. In a 2001 address to the Pontifical Academy of
Social Sciences, John Paul reiterated the faith's teaching that
"ethics demands that systems be attuned to the needs of man, and not
that man be sacrificed for the sake of the system." Furthering this
idea, the Pope insisted on "the inalienable value of the human person"
who "must always be an end and not a means, a subject, not an object,
not a commodity of trade."

John Paul also pointed toward an alternative to the vision of market
fundamentalism that is "based on a purely economic conception of man"
and "considers profit and the law of the market as its only
parameters." He contended that "solidarity too must become

When he received members of the European Automobile Manufacturers
Association in 2001, he called for "ethical discernment aimed at
protecting the environment and promoting the full human development of
millions of men and women, in a way that respects every individual's
dignity and makes room for personal creativity in the workplace."

Most specifically, the Pope strongly supported the Jubilee 2000
coalition's call for thorough-going debt relief for developing
countries. He stated in 1998 that "the heavy burden of external
debt... compromises the economies of whole peoples and hinders their
social and political progress."

"If the aim is globalization without marginalization, we can no longer
tolerate a world in which there live side by side the immensely rich
and the miserably poor, the have-nots deprived even of essentials and
people who thoughtlessly waste what others so desperately need. Such
contrasts are an affront to the dignity of the human person."

The Pope's economic teachings were consistent with his views of
political life. John Paul is rightly remembered for championing the
democratic rights of people in his native Poland and elsewhere behind
the Iron Curtain. Some U.S. neoconservatives have sought to distort
this legacy by presenting the Pope as an intellectual sidekick to
Ronald Reagan. But John Paul's conception of democracy was not one of
unchecked individual rights. Rather, he asserted that free citizens
must have "a firm and persevering determination to commit [themselves]
to the common good."

In this regard, John Paul operated within the moral precedent set in
the Second Vatican Council's statement on The Church in the Modern
World. Here the church argued that "the state has the duty to prevent
people from abusing their private property to the detriment of the
common good. By its nature private property has a social dimension,
which is based on the law of the common destination of earthly goods.
Whenever the social aspect is forgotten, ownership can often become
the object of greed and a source of serious disorder."

Many observers have speculated that the next Pope may be the first to
come from the global South. While sharing John Paul's social
conservatism, several of the most prominent candidates from the
developing world (including Latin American Archbishops Jorge Mario
Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oscar Andris Rodrmguez Maradiaga
of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Claudio Hummes of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
also hold in common with the departed pontiff an outspoken concern for
global economic justice.

It is far from certain that one of these candidates will become the
next Pope. Nevertheless, John Paul's economic ethics represent a
legacy that will continue as an important current within the Catholic
Church--and that should give pause to anyone who believes moral values
are the exclusive province of the right.

Published by Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF), a joint project of the
International Relations Center (IRC, formerly the Interhemispheric
Resource Center, online at www.irc-online.org) and the Institute for
Policy Studies (IPS, online at www.ips-dc.org). )2005. All rights

------------------ schnapp --------------------------------

    This article has, of course, drawn sharp criticism on the NYTr  
mailing list which I append here:

--------- schnipp -----------------------------------------

Via NY Transfer News Collective  *  All the News that Doesn't Fit

[As several people have noted, John Paul II's opposition to the
invasion of Iraq was certainly mild, and of the all-talk, no-action
variety.  When it comes to his "concern for the poor," he didn't
put his money where his mouth was, either.  And he certainly didn't
sell any of the Roman Catholic Church's treasure to help feed, house,
clothe or educate anyone.-NY Transfer]

sent by mart

Economic "Ethics"????  Give Me a Break!

Regarding "A Defense of JP2's Economic Ethics" (April 6, 2005)
published by Foreign Policy in Focus:

Pope JP2's Economic "ethics"??? What crap! While the CIA Pope may have
on a few occasions, mildly criticized certain neo-liberal capitalist
policies and even may have publicly shed a few phony 'crocodile tears'
about - quote-  "the subordinating  of 'human persons' to blind market
forces" and for "placing unbearable burdens upon less favored
countries", what did he actually do? He worked tirelessly, both publicly
and behind the scenes, for his CIA masters to bring about the destruction
of socialism in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe and hand those
countries and their citizens over to "blind market forces"! In the
Balkans too, he cheered and abetted the destruction of Yugoslavia and
the handing of that economy over to those same "blind market forces"!

On the peace front too - his words, at least in public, were critical of
the U.S. invasion of Iraq...but what did he actually do? Did he forbid
American Catholics from joining the U.S. military or going to fight in
an illegal and immoral war against Iraq? Did he threaten American
Catholic politicians who supported and promoted war on Iraq with
excommunication or even with church sanctions? Remember the outcry and
threats from the Catholic church because it feared that John Kerry might
support slightly liberalized abortion laws, might allow U.S. government
promotion of contraception in the fight against AIDS in Africa, and
might legally enshrine basic human rights for U.S. gays at home!

Recall too, that just before the U.S. invasion - and at the same time as
JP2 was being publicly critical of the U.S  for threatening and
preparing for war against Iraq - there was an active campaign by peace
groups, worldwide, to get the Pope to put his words into action and to
go to Iraq to act as a human shield to prevent the U.S. from bombing.
This single act by one person perhaps could have perhaps prevented the
U.S invasion and the deaths of a hundred thousand or more Iraqi
civilians. Did he go?? No, of course not. Once again, his words were
just words, intended for public consumption and to give a veil of
respectability and provide cover for his true neo-liberal, capitalist
agenda and anti-human, neanderthal beliefs. JP2's "economic ethics"?
Give me a break!!!!



------------------ schnapp --------------------------------

Lüko Willms
/------------ L.WILLMS at jpberlin.de --
/------------ Lueko.Willms at T-Online.de      -- "Get PGP Key" im Betreff

More information about the Marxism mailing list