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October 24, 2011
For Immediate Release
Steve Krueger

Vatican Document Says Global Economic Crisis Rooted in Unregulated Free Market Ideology and Calls for

Fair Distribution of World Wealth

Catholic Democrats Argues that Democratic Party Policies are More Closely Aligned than Free Market Republican Ideology with Vatican's Updated Economic Justice Proposal for the Global Common Good

Boston, Mass. - Catholic Democrats is highlighting a sweeping statement by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) entitled "Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority."  The letter is issued at a time when both the U.S. and world economy continue to teeter in the wake of the Great Recession, the U.S. faces record poverty and unemployment, and the concentration of wealth in the U.S. is skyrocketing while median family income is on the decline.  

Catholic Democrats is focusing on the document - based on the Catholic Social Justice tradition - because of its implications for the current rancorous economic policy debate in the U.S.  The Pontifical Council document attributes the global economic crisis to "an economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls," i.e. an unregulated free market ideology, which is based on "a priori laws of market functioning and economic development without measuring them against reality" and "(that exaggerate) certain aspects of markets," i.e. trickle down economics.  The PCJP note reminds us of Pope John Paul II's warning "of the risk of an 'idolatry of the market'..." and asserts that "the primacy of politics - ... is responsible for the common good - over economics and finance."  It affirms the validity of the application of social justice principles across all levels of government - local, national, and global. The document identifies the most urgent needs for reform in the global economic system as those "regarding global social justice," including "a fair distribution of wealth."

"The timing of this letter could not be more inspired for those suffering from consequences of the staggering U.S. and global economies," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats.  "We live in a time of record poverty, long-term unemployment, declining working class incomes and growing wealth inequality in the U.S. and stark economic woes around the world.  At home, the Tea Party-led Republican ideology puts corporations before people, takes away labor's rights, de-funds unemployment benefits, downsizes government in a way that downsizes all people's ability to fully participate in society, delegitimizes necessary governmental regulation, and legitimizes historically low tax rates for the rich. 'Towards Reforming' can be a wake-up call for all Catholics and people of good will to heed.  It's time for all Catholics to put both faith and reason ahead of the temptations of divisive partisanship and toward the social justice economic policies inherent in the document, even if that means that Catholic Republicans in Congress move in the direction of the proven bi-partisan economic policies that Democrats have proposed to put Americans back to work."

"The Church today has condemned the kind of free market free-for-all being espoused by all the current Republican presidential candidates," said Dr Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats.  "Citing 'the profound value of human dignity and the quest for the common good,' the Pontifical Council has urged all of us as Catholics to dedicate ourselves to building an economy that values people before profits."

The Council's Letter advances principles of economic Catholic Social Justice espoused by previous pontiffs, including Pope John XXIII in his 1963 encyclical "Peace on Earth" ("Pacem in Terris"), Pope Paul VI, and from Pope Benedict XVI's  own previous writings, including his 2009 encyclical "Charity in Truth" ("Caritas in Veritate").  Fr. Tom Reese, S.J. said in a statement that "Benedict [in "Charity in Truth"], like Paul VI decries 'the scandal of glaring inequalities' and sees a role of government in the redistribution of wealth" ... that puts the pope "to the left of Obama ...on economic issues."  The policy divide between the Vatican and the unregulated free-market Republican polices is therefore considerably greater than it is for the policies of the Democratic Party.

The Vatican Letter follows the recent emergence of the Occupy Wall Street Movement that started in the U.S. and has spread across the globe subsequent to riots in European countries, most notably in Greece.  The current global economic conditions that have given rise to the frustrations of the marginalized and working class in the global community can ultimately be linked to the unregulated investments of sub-prime debt derivatives created by Wall Street investment banks.  These new financial instruments, whose risk could not be accurately determined, led to a near melt down of the interconnected global economy in 2008.  Many economists forecast that the U.S. economy will not recover to its pre- 2007 Great Recession level until 2020 or beyond.  The Occupy Wall Street Movement refers to themselves as "the 99%-ers," which reflects the economic reality that 1% of the U.S. population controls approximately 40% of the nation's wealth and receives 25% of the nation's income.   The U.S. comprises less that 5% of the global population and controls approximately 25% of global wealth.

"Pope Paul VI said that full and global development is 'the new name of peace,' and we must put aside self-serving political creeds that value personal enrichment regardless of the cost to our fellow citizens and especially to the world's poor," said Dr Whelan.  "It is incumbent upon our political leaders, especially Catholics, to restore domestic economic policies that grew out of the Catholic Social Justice tradition over the past century and are currently under attack.  Our history has shown us that we are at our best as a nation when we embrace the virtue of the common good and work to make it a reality."


About Catholic Democrats

Catholic Democrats is an association of state-based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans. For more information about Catholic Democrats please go to

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