October 24th, 2011
01:35 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Against the backdrop of the European debt crisis and the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Vatican on Monday called for a new “global public authority” to help reform the world’s finance and economic systems.
New ideologies are “reducing the common good to economic, financial and technical questions, (placing) the future of democratic institutions themselves at risk," said Roman Catholic Bishop Mario Toso at a Monday press conference.
The document, called "Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of a global public authority" quotes former Pope John Paul II in bemoaning the “idolatry of the market.”
The document calls for a new global economic authority that could impose penalties on member states as “way of ensuring that they possess efficient markets,” Toso said.
Some progressives embraced the Vatican’s call, arguing that it sounded many of the same themes as the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Thomas Reese, an influential priest at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, wrote in anticipation of the document’s release that it is “closer to views of the Occupy Wall Street movement than anyone in the U.S. Congress.”
“Not only will it be to the left of Barack Obama,” Reese wrote before the document’s release, “it will be to the left of Nancy Pelosi.”
Faith in Public Life, a progressive Washington-based group, applauded the document, calling it “a timely challenge to conservative political leaders eager to carve up the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law passed last year.”
The document is “far to the left of almost any politician in the United States (short of Rep. Bernie Sanders) and should also give pause to Democrats whose fundraising coffers spill over with contributions from a financial sector that has been allowed to run amok over the past three decades,” Faith in Public Life said in a statement.
Some conservatives pushed back on claims that the Vatican document aligns with the aims of Occupy Wall Street.
“There has been much hyperventilation from some quarters over the release of this document,” Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President Bill Donohue said. “All of it is unwarranted.”
“Those who are comparing this text to the demands of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ crowd should first detail what exactly it is the urban campers want,” Donohue said in a statement.
Pope Benedict XVI has been following issues related to finance and global economy “with particular concern,” Roman Catholic Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson said on Monday.
The document was timed to help influence next week’s meeting of G20 nations, a group that comprises the countries with the world’s largest economies, Vatican officials said. It was released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The document echoes Benedict’s earlier pronouncements on the global economy, including a 2009 encyclical, or papal letter.
“Today's international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise," Benedict said in the letter, called "Charity in Truth."
"Financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers," Benedict wrote, calling for “an ethics which is people-centered.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.