In the wake of his death, Pope Benedict XVI received praise from Catholics throughout the world for defending traditional liturgy and practice, which Pope Francis appears compelled to eradicate. Few of those Catholics, however, realize that the late pope propelled Francis’ environmentalist and economic agendas before Francis ever succeeded him.
By doing so, Benedict promoted the radical, utopian egalitarianism and globalism that marked Catholic social teaching since the 1960s. That teaching, in turn, reflects capitulation to a materialist humanism bordering on secularism.
Benedict’s 2009 encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” advocated reforming the United Nations to create a “true world political authority” that would regulate international and domestic economies for “the common good,” he wrote. The mission for such a body, whether the United Nations or a successor, would be to design a “directed” global economy that would “open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale,” Benedict wrote.
Why would such redistribution be necessary? “To manage the global economy … to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration,” Benedict wrote. Protecting the environment, he added, would involve “a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them.”
The authority Benedict envisioned would be no mere advisory body. It would “have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums,” he wrote, “so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.” In the process, this proposed authority would regulate international law and diplomacy to give “poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making.”
Such regulation, Benedict continued, “seems necessary to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity.”
Benedict believed a supranational authority could succeed where individual nations failed in solving economic problems.
“Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State’s public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions,” he wrote, “it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodeled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today’s world.”
Benedict wrote those words 14 years ago. Since then, the world’s economy has only gotten worse.
But the late pope was no anomaly. Benedict’s views represent a train of thought that began at the Second Vatican Council, which met between 1962 and 1965 to develop a Catholic response to the modern world. In 1965, that council produced a pastoral letter, “Gaudium et Spes”, which provided the foundation for the church’s current approach to economic, political and social problems, as the following statements illustrate:
“Never has the human race enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources, and economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the world’s citizens are still tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless numbers suffer from total illiteracy.
According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others, he can neither live nor develop his potential.
Therefore, there must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one’s own conscience, to protection of privacy and rightful freedom even in matters religious. Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person.”
In 1963, Pope John XXIII, who summoned the council, used his encyclical “Pacem in Terris” to advocate creating an international “public authority with power” that would devise and impose solutions.
“Today the universal common good presents us with problems which are world-wide in their dimensions,” John wrote, “problems, therefore, which cannot be solved except by a public authority with power, organization and means co-extensive with these problems, and with a world-wide sphere of activity. Consequently, the moral order itself demands the establishment of some such general form of public authority.”
In 1967, Pope Paul VI repeated that call in his encyclical, “Populorum Progressio.”
“Such international collaboration among the nations of the world certainly calls for institutions that will promote, coordinate and direct it, until a new juridical order is firmly established and fully ratified,” Paul wrote.
“We give willing and wholehearted support to those public organizations that have already joined in promoting the development of nations, and We ardently hope that they will enjoy ever growing authority.
As We told the United Nations General Assembly in New York: ‘Your vocation is to bring not just some peoples but all peoples together as brothers. . . Who can fail to see the need and importance of thus gradually coming to the establishment of a world authority capable of taking effective action on the juridical and political planes?’ “
Benedict often and approvingly cited Paul VI’s encyclical in his own.
The ideas the Second Vatican Council generated — and that ensuing popes, including Benedict, amplified — constitute official Vatican policy. Cardinal Peter Turkson, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, cited Benedict’s and Paul’s encyclicals in 2011 to justify establishing the kind of body they advocated.
“In a world on its way to rapid globalization, orientation towards a world Authority becomes the only horizon compatible with the new realities of our time and the needs of humankind,” Turkson wrote. “The birth of a new society and the building of new institutions with a universal vocation and competence are a prerogative and a duty for everyone, without distinction. What is at stake is the common good of humanity and the future itself.”
Francis has done more than any other pope in trying to implement the agenda that his predecessors — including Benedict — advocated. As FrontPage Magazine explored numerous times, especially in 2020 with “The Roman Globalist Church,” Francis wants economic redistribution and environmental sustainability to become the hallmarks of his papacy.
By making that choice, as FrontPage discussed, Francis deemphasizes such moral issues as abortion. Perhaps because Jeffrey Sachs, an economics professor from Columbia, serves as a papal advisor. Sachs wrote the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — and believes abortion is pivotal to controlling population growth.
An eight-day period in May 2021 revealed how Francis implements the Vatican’s prime directive.
On May 6, the Vatican began a three-day conference on health care, with an emphasis on COVID-19. Speakers included Chelsea Clinton, noted abortion advocate, who participated on a panel entitled “Building a More Equitable Health Care System for All.” The program praised another speaker, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, for his “initiatives to create a sustainable, low-carbon future for all.”
The next day, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, responsible for doctrine as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, released a letter discouraging American bishops from withholding Communion from elected officials who support abortion. In issuing that letter, Ladaria contradicted both the Catholic catechism and canon law.
Then on May 14, the Vatican played host to a one-day symposium, “Dreaming of a Better Restart.” The title imitates the World Economic Forum’s emphasis on a “great reset.” Sachs spoke on a panel addressing “Financial and Tax Solidarity.” John Kerry, the Biden Administration’s climate envoy, then delivered the keynote speech for “Integral Ecological Sustainability,” a session that discussed “Climate Change and Sustainable and Fair Energy and Food System Transformation.”
Six months later, Francis urged members of the Paris Peace Forum to use the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to fundamentally restructure human society:
“Faced with the consequences of the great storm that has shaken the world, our conscience therefore calls us … not to follow the easy path of returning to a ‘normality’ marked by injustice, but to accept the challenge of assuming the crisis as ‘a concrete opportunity for conversion, transformation, to rethink our lifestyle and our economic and social systems.’“
The partial quote referring to “a concrete opportunity” came from Francis’ own address to the UN General Assembly in September 2020.
Make no mistake. Thanks in no small part to Benedict’s “Caritas in Veritate,” the Vatican now stands firmly with the United Nations and the World Economic Forum in plotting the course of human destiny.
Whether the Vatican will remain standing with the faith it claims to uphold has become an open question.