More than any other reading since it was released on October 24th by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, their statement on the global economy, I have been trying to come to grips with just what are they thinking?
Never before has a Vatican statement caused my being to shudder.
I am particularly uneasy about the call for a “world political authority”……”A supranational Authority……”
Immediately I thought of two books written in the last century, one near the beginning and one near the end: MR. BLUE by Myles Connelly and FATHER ELIJAH by Michael O’Brien.
I find it extremely difficult to agree with a document which frankly seems to me to miss the point: real people are suffering and arguing for more power over them by some supranational authority strikes me as bizarre.
Granted the so-self-named 99%, also known as the “Occupy Movement” appears not only bizarre in its own right but equally out of touch with the vast majority of the human family.
I visited the local camp.
I volunteer in a soup kitchen so am well experienced with the various smells of people unable to access clean clothes or showers, with people suffering all forms of mental/addiction pain, indeed often, as just the other day, helping a man who came to the door having just been savagely beaten and robbed of what little he had.
The local camp used to be a nice little park with green lawn, flowers, benches to sit on, an oasis in the desert of concrete towers.
Now the grass is gone replaced by mud and human debris, the smell is awful, the occupiers a mixture of ages, races, backgrounds, but mostly just angry and without a single cogent argument to clarify what they want.
Messages on cardboard span the whole spectrum of anti-just- about- everything and everyone, yet without clear suggested solutions to anything.
In a way it is just sad.
What again made me think of the two books mentioned above is the growing anti-Christian dimension among the 99% - witness the smashing of a statue of Our Blessed Mother by occupiers in Rome, seeking to disrupt Holy Mass and do damage inside the Cathedral in Vancouver.
No sane person can deny the global economy is in a mess or the degree to which greed, coupled with lax oversight of financial institutions and markets, makes not institutions but real people working in them responsible for the current crisis.
As a consequence real people, real families, indeed entire nations of real people, real families are suffering horribly and even those not hungry or out of work or who have lost the family home, suffer pernicious anxiety given how uncertain the future appears.
The Vatican document does, somewhat, reference the long tradition of social encyclicals – but all that remains somewhere in the ether unless bishops take the time to teach their priests in depth from this treasury and unless priests take the time, with in both cases competent faithful laity, with expertise in economic and social matters, to educate the wider Catholic community, indeed the entire Christian community so that, rather than a dangerous ‘supranational authority’ or the impotence of some ‘occupy’ movement, we have the birth of real energized by the Gospel of Life men and women, lay people, ordinary husbands and wives, widows and widowers, youth who will transform the world in the light and mercy, the teaching and life of Christ.
It is the sheer bigness of government and financial institutions, corporations and frankly of dioceses/parishes that is crushing people.
We need to learn from the sparrows: little, free, soaring yet industrious, communal yet never so huge a flock that they block out the light! [cf. Mt. 6:26; 10:29 & Lk.12:24]