Thursday, November 3, 2011

A few thoughts on fall and the world economy

Ah, November! While October is lovely where I live, November is even lovelier, the time of deep fall, grayer skies, leaves actually tumbling from the trees and littering the ground. It is the month that begins with All Saints and All Souls, two of my favorite days of the year and that features the Solemnity of Christ the King, marking the end of yet another of grace. Very often, as with this year, November also ushers in a new year of grace on the First Sunday of Advent. Of course, the First Sunday of Advent this year will be the debut of much anticipated new translation of the Roman Missal, which is bound to be a little disorienting for everyone for awhile. I must admit to being excited about preaching on both the first and last Sundays of Advent this year.

I have to admit to feeling quite overwhelmed by everything that is happening in the world right now, especially the seemingly hopeless economic morass the world is mired in. I was prepared to start posting a lot on the disaster a Greek referendum on the EU bailout deal would've caused, especially if it had failed. I believe it was fear that the citizens of his country would not ultimately see that rejecting the EU bailout would spell economic doom, along with pressure brought to bear by Germany and France, that would have surely resulted in Greece being effectively kicked-out of the European monetary union, is what caused Greek PM George Papandreou to ultimately decide against holding a referendum. This decision will likely cost him his premiership and perhaps even his Socialist party their slim majority in Greece's parliament. It is one more indication that statesmanship is dead that Papandreou tried to hold a referendum in the first place and only withdrew it under pressure. Even as OWS raged on Jon Corzine was in his final days of being a Wall Street and political power. The former New Jersey senator and governor bankrupted his firm by taking reckless risks and European sovereign debt and likely illegally used clients' funds to shore-up his losses, while hoping things would turn around. I am just happy that MF Global is not too big fail. Yet another object lesson that we have learned very little over the past 3 years.

On other hand, I was very gratified to read Greg Erlandson's take on those who do not like last week's document by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems In the Context of Global Public Authority. Erlandson is the president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, which can hardly be dismissed a leading voice of the Catholic left in the United States. His editorial, Snarky attacks on Vatican financial document: The truth is that the Church is countercultural in many different ways, unsettling both left and right, seems to me spot on. In it he challenges so-called Catholic conservatives, which, at least in the United States, are by-and-large classical liberals economically-speaking. "Every one of these writers," Erlandson notes, "would consider himself both conservative and orthodox, yet there is an ideologically fueled disdain that ripples through almost all of these comments, meant to telegraph in bold letters that Catholics need not waste any time reading this document because it is wrong." This is, indeed, a false move driven by ideological concerns. As Erlandson notes, the so-called "Note" is very much in synch in Pope Benedict's most recent encyclical, Caritas in veritate. It bears noting that Caritas in veritate, promulgated in 2009, frequently references and draws from Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Populorum progresso.

 Erlandson ends his succinct editorial with these words: "Political and economic conservatives seem unsettled that such statements might not sync up readily with the conservative economic orthodoxy, and they are right. The truth is that the Church is countercultural in many different ways, unsettling both left and right. Our challenge as Catholics is to put down the cafeteria tray and both prayerfully and intellectually pay attention to the Church’s whole moral message."


  1. love it. I "know" greg erlandson because my husband wrote some pieces for him. He's a lovely man. Also, he is not a lefty Catholic in any way whatsoever.

  2. I think that we do ourselves a great disservice by attaching ourselves to an ideology to the point that anything coming from the other side is automatically rejected straight out, or is interpreted solely within the frame work of one's own particular political leanings.

    I know that I have done this quite often over the years (and IMHO, that is the problem with people like Rush Limbaugh). One thing that my lay formation helped me to see was the gifts that everyone brings. If we can first stop labelling as left/right, orthodox/heterodox, maybe we can evaluate what someone has to say in light of the possibilities that it brings. I think that we would all be better served if we tried to do that a little more often.

    Sometimes it's hard. I find myself still doing it too. The first step is trying to be aware that this is a barrier to having an open mind.


A political non-rant

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