In a blast from the past, the Catholic Church, which at one time held unilateral influence over the day-to-day affairs of the nobles and commoners of many nations across the regions of Europe, is weighing in on the global financial, economic and political crisis with a not so novel historically failed idea – one that would once again put the lives of the world’s population into the hands of a few.
In a statement released Monday by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Vatican called for, “reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority.”
Think, for example, of peace and security; disarmament and arms control; promotion and protection of fundamental human rights; management of the economy and development policies; management of the migratory flows and food security, and protection of the environment. In all these areas, the growing interdependence between States and regions of the world becomes more and more obvious as well as the need for answers that are not just sectorial and isolated, but systematic and integrated, rich in solidarity and subsidiarity and geared to the universal common good.
This is a complex and delicate process. A supranational Authority of this kind should have a realistic structure and be set up gradually. It should be favourable to the existence of efficient and effective monetary and financial systems; that is, free and stable markets overseen by a suitable legal framework, well-functioning in support of sustainable development and social progress of all, and inspired by the values of charity and truth. It is a matter of an Authority with a global reach that cannot be imposed by force, coercion or violence, but should be the outcome of a free and shared agreement and a reflection of the permanent and historic needs of the world common good.
While we can agree that the countries of the world have grown interdependent on a scale not seen before in human history and that the current system is not exactly ideal, we find it necessary to point out that global leaders have spent the better part of the last century attempting to create a so-called Supernational Authority to oversee world affairs.
Consider the League of Nations, a failed predecessor to our modern day United Nations – which, incidentally, is comprised of most of the world’s nations, yet has completely failed at its mission of stabilization.
In addition to the political arms, we also have military arms of supernational authority like NATO, which has not always acted in the interests of the common good, often failing to do anything in countries where ethnic cleansing and military dictatorship has taken hold of entire populations, yet engaging in “peace keeping” missions in places where there isn’t really a need.
Insofar as economic policy control is concerned, it’s obvious that this approach, like the political and military factions of authority, is a failure. What stability, regulation and prevention of theft and greed did the Bank of International Settlements (the central bank of central banks) provide to the global financial system? Or what about the International Monetary fund and World Bank?
All of these supernational authorities have arguably had a negative impact on the lives of the very people they promised to help and protect. All of them are international regulatory or political bodies that have disastrously failed at providing any semblance of equality across the world’s population.
Billions are still starving or living off of less than a $1 a day. Wars and conflict continue to wage on almost every continent on the planet. And those countries that would be considered industrialized, first world nations, are seeing their populations further impoverished.
Whether centralized control is to blame is a discussion for another time. But, what is clear is that centralized control is not the solution we’re looking for, because it hasn’t worked for fifty years, despite a sustained push for a new world order that was supposed to improve conditions for all peoples.
The Vatican does point out the challenges with establishing such a system; challenges that are at the forefront of our existing supernational authority structures.
A supranational Institution, the expression of a “community of nations”, will not last long, however, if the countries’ diversities from the standpoint of cultures, material and immaterial resources and historic and geographic conditions, are not recognized and fully respected. The lack of a convinced consensus, nourished by an unceasing moral communion on the part of the world community, would also reduce the effectiveness of such an Authority.
What is valid on the national level is also valid on the global level. A person is not made to serve authority unconditionally. Rather, it is the task of authority to be at the service of the person, consistent with the pre-eminent value of human dignity. Likewise, governments should not serve the world Authority unconditionally. Instead, it is the world Authority that should put itself at the service of the various member countries, according to the principle of subsidiarity.
Bottom line: There are 7 billion people on the planet and hundreds of different religious and cultural doctrines. Meshing these together into one global authority is simply not going to work. Additional, the idea that a World Authority would put itself at the service of its member countries and their respective citizens is laughable. All central authorities serve only the central authority, and always at the expense of those they are supposedly serving.