PopeWatch: BOMFOG

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One of the interesting aspects of the Vatican since Vatican II is the overall poor job that the Popes have done in leading the Catholic Church, with the partial exception of John Paul II, and, to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict, and the attention that the Vatican has paid to matters in which clerics have no special competence.  No where is this more the case that in the area of economics, where Catholics who know something about the dismal science have to blush with shame at most of the droppings from the Vatican on that subject.

These musings usually read as if they were parodies written by someone imitating Saint Thomas More writing about Utopia:  texts to belabor current conditions without containing a clue as to how realistic change for the better could possibly be initiated.  They usually contain genie-like invocations of the power of the State to control the economy, seemingly oblivious to the disasters such control has often led to throughout history and particularly during the last century.  They are usually written in the most cloying, unctuous language frequently deploying BOMFOG at length.  The late Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches that his chief goal was   “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!”  To people who know much about his political career, that invocation could be either considered to be a sick joke or a dark comedy.  His aides used to refer to these statements as BOMFOG.  The more high-falutin’ the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within.  Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and what George Orwell could have done with that title, is a prominent purveyor of this type of humbug:




The event, titled “The Economy according to Pope Francis,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the embassies of Germany, the Netherlands and Austria to the Holy See. In his speech, Cardinal Turkson highlighted the pope’s warnings on the “liquid economy,” or an economy judged by the ease with which assets can be converted into cash, and therefore focusing more on finance than on labor and the production of goods. This type of economy, he said, is one that “refuses to put the human being at the centre of economic life.”

“For Pope Francis, a liquid economy goes hand-in-hand with a throwaway culture. This is the ultimate economy of exclusion,” Cardinal Turkson said. The pope’s call for the world to move from a liquid economy to a social economy, one that “invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training,” is a solution that shifts the priority “from economic growth and financial health to human flourishing and the ability to live well,” he said.

To achieve this, the cardinal continued, the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good highlighted in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” can be applied to the modern market economy. Also citing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Cardinal Turkson explained that solidarity can lead to the “creation of a new mindset” that places “priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”

These principles, he added, also can be applied to global problems “that do not respect national boundaries” and therefore call for a unified response.

“Climate change is an obvious example,” he said. “The same is true for other environmental problems, including the loss of biodiversity, the strain on water supplies, and pollution of the air, the soil, the water.”

Global issues such as unemployment, inequality and environmental degradation can be remedied by moving toward a social market economy, Cardinal Turkson said. However, global and business leaders also must come to terms with the causes of such problems.

While technological advances have improved efficiency, he said, they also have created problems with employment, which is “an essential source of human dignity.” “More and more people are being discarded as machines take up their tasks. And as technology gets more and more advanced, what will a ‘robot economy’ mean for workers?” the cardinal asked. In order to serve the common good, Cardinal Turkson said, businesses must “put the creation of employment ahead of a fixation of profits.”

Government policies that provide tax cuts to the wealthy while “fraying social safety nets and weakening unions,” he said, also have contributed to a growing inequality that has given the wealthy “too much influence over policy.”

Societies that become too unequal, he added, “lose a sense of shared purpose necessary for deliberating on the common good.”

A new social economy, he said, must be respectful of nature instead of relying on “old-school industrialisation,” making the world dependent on oil, coal and gas. Extreme pollution, climate change and the destruction of vital ecosystems caused by such industrialisation will continue to push people into extreme poverty “if we fail to act,” he said.

Everyone must “play their part” in ensuring an economy that is sustainable, equal and respectful of human dignity, he said. “Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that the state alone is responsible for the common good while ‘the business of business is business.'”


Go here to read the rest.  This isn’t the first foray of Cardinal Turkson into the economics of Utopia.  Go here to read an earlier effort.  PopeWatch guesses that if the powers that be at the Vatican were doing a good job at leading the Church, he might be inclined to give them more slack in regard to matters in which they manifestly are bone ignorant.  However, when they are doing an obviously lousy job guiding the Church, what little patience for nonsense PopeWatch has goes right out the window.  It might be amusing, though, to observe the consequences of the adoption of such congealed folly as an actual global economic policy, if it could be observed from a safe distance, say another star system.

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As faithful readers of this blog know, I was a very reluctant, and late, supporter of Donald Trump in 2016.  I grudgingly


  1. The mission of the Church is to lead man to Christ, to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and be with Him eternally in the next.

    THis has been mostly ignored since Vatican II.

  2. What has sometimes been dubbed “pulpit economics” tends to get things exactly backwards.
    People change their relations with each other because they want to produce the means of livelihood more easily: increasing the means of livelihood is the aim, changes in the social relations of production is the unintended consequence. “The forces of production rebel against the existing relations of production,” not the other way round.

  3. “Everyone must play their part”, except of course gasbags at the Vatican. They just get to make things worse. Simple arrogance.

  4. Recall that in LS, the Pope called for a global power with authority over climate change—a completely totalitarian notion. In support of his platform, the Pope stated in LS that it was already too late to control the climate through global tax penalties. The Church now has in a putative teaching document a justification for a dominating worldly power with almost complete unaccountable authority over our own “economies”. I suppose many in the Vatican find us mere Catholics “deplorable” in a clintonian sense of the word.

  5. Popes would have more credibility if they would talk about how economies are restricted by government actions, taxes and general political corruption. As it is Popes seem always to play into the hands of the Socialists.

  6. cthemfly25 wrote, “The Church now has in a putative teaching document a justification for a dominating worldly power with almost complete unaccountable authority…”
    Bl Paul VI said in his encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967), a more than “putative” teaching document
    “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. 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?””

  7. MPS–I admire your extensive reading on many subjects. Thanks for sharing that insight.

    From LS: “it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.” The Pope then continued with a call that this new international entity would have the power to impose sanctions not just regarding the climate control hoax but with respect to other matters such as redistribution of wealth. “Empowered to impose sanctions”—think about that. Let that simmer into any freedom loving brain. Try for a moment to juxtapose that on the mission of the Church to spread the good news and to seek the salvation of souls. The Pope calls for top down world authority with POWER to punish anyone opposing the global warming agenda. That kind of power is breathtaking in its scope and unaccountable to anyone including the Pope. An entity with power to enforce the UN’s “sustainable development” goals (also supported by the Vatican); a power which can tell you how many children you can have, how much you can earn or keep from your earnings, how many square feet might be your dwelling place, how much “carbon’ you can consume. Power of that sort requires force—the force of regulation, punishment, and taxation. A power which imposes corrective thought controlling methods to enforce the new normative and intended to force us to be submissive to this new world entity. But hey, I’m just one of the deplorables.

  8. I agree with all the comments so far here! I’ve been aghast watching from this unsafe distance……
    which leads me to thank the writer for delicious words that, despite the revulsion for the reality we are describing here, gave me a great laugh….. ” It might be amusing, though, to observe the consequences of the adoption of such congealed folly as an actual global economic policy, if it could be observed from a safe distance, say another star system.” ….between my day and night tears and prayers.

    Does anyone know how any of the Eastern Orthodox leaders view these ideas being pressed through LS and elsewhere that are so destructive to freedom, life and I would say, love?

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