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NEWS: The Vatican and the Occupy movement

Bishop Mario Toso

Bishop Mario Toso

The Guardian UK reports, “If Vatican cardinals have yet to join the Occupy Wall Street protesters, a document released by the Holy See calling for a ‘world authority’ to crack down on capitalism suggests some are considering it. Written by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and released on Monday, Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority, suggests a beefed-up United Nations could police the financial markets and inject a dose of ethics to replace rampant profiteering and reduce inequality.”

“The document says the International Monetary Fund is no longer up to the job of stabilising the global financial system. …(The pamphlet also says) financial transactions (should) be taxed to promote global development and sustainability, while ‘virtuous’ banks helping out the ‘real economy’ would qualify for state subsidy should they need it.”

“The (Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) secretary, Bishop Mario Toso, said the 1944 Bretton Woods accord had failed, while the G20 was unable to rein in markets.”

Bishop Toso is a close friend of the Holy See’s secretary of state Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone. Often referred to as the Vatican, the Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome. It has permanent observer in various international organizations, including the United Nations General Assembly, the Council of Europe, and the World Trade Organization.

This past February, the Vatican News Service reported, “Reasonable access to clean water is a fundamental human right and its distribution should not be left solely to private companies seeking profit, a top Vatican official said. Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told participants at a meeting regarding the future of water supplies around the world that water is not a commercial product but rather a common good that belongs to everyone. People have a ‘universal and inalienable right’ to access, a right that is so fundamental that ‘governments cannot leave its management solely in private hands,’ he said.”

The global campaign for a financial transactions tax, which the Vatican now appears to support, proposes a 0.05 percent tax to raise funds to spend on social and anti-proverty needs domestically and Millenium Development Goals and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives internationally. It has been estimated that this Robin Hood tax would generate $400 billion Cdn a year. A fraction of that amount – some $10-$30 billion a year – could provide clean drinking water to half the 1.1 billion people around the world who need it.