Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caritas in Veritate, Part 6: The New World Order

Ok, what we’re looking at now is probably the most controversial part
of the encyclical. Catholics and Protestants alike are full-on
blasting the Pope for what he says here, though for very different

Before we get started, let’s call to mind our prior installments (here for example) in which we’ve reviewed what, to this point, seemed to be a recurring theme for the Holy Father: the inability of man and man-made structures to solve problems. Using that as a reference point, let’s proceed.

In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.

By itself, I think this is pretty innocuous. It’s the follow-up that freaks people out.

One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of
giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order 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. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor
Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.

From an economic standpoint, didn’t von Hayek claim the need for a similar institution in The Road to Serfdom? I don’t have my copy handy, but I’m pretty sure the whole last chapter was about (a) the dangers of international economic planning and (b) the need for an international super-authority to help avert global calamities.

My point is that His Holiness can’t be labeled some sort of communist simply because he mentions an international authority.

Moreover, there is a bit of a blur here with regards to the need for this organization. Is the point that we need this sort of thing now and forever because of how bad things are or that it’s always been needed because things have always been bad or that we need it to help with these problems as long as they exist in their current form?

There’s been a big movement to historicize most Magisterial pronouncements of the last couple of centuries, hence we hear that Blessed Pius IX was just talking about the 19th century situation in the Syllabus of Errors, or St. Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism was just meant for the particular problems of his era, and so forth. In Pope Benedict’s case, he has surrounded this plea for a global authority with language that seems to isolate its need for the times and problems faced in our somewhat peculiar times. For that reason, I don’t really see this as some sort of break with past papal teaching, as he is clearly addressing our circumstances today. Sure, he references John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, but even then, Pope John was staring into the face of the Cold War. Given their respective circumstances, I don’t think it’s shocking then that you didn’t hear such a call from John Paul II (at least that I’m aware of). His way of taking on the Soviets was just way different.

Don’t buy into the historicizing take on things? That’s ok. I don’t think I do either. Let’s keep reading, though, as I’m about to get really wacky with my theories.

Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth.

So we see the Pope trying to put checks on the sort of entity he’s talking about. I know what everyone is thinking here because pretty much everyone from every angle has said it in commenting about the encyclical: It’s very easy to talk about this sort of thing, but realistically, such an organization will gradually slouch towards absolutism. Just hold that thought and bear with me.

What sorts of checks are we talking about? Law, subsidiarity, solidarity, the pursuit of the common good (and remember the Catholic definition of this term), and “authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth.”

I don’t know of any other way to take this, except that the Pope wants a Catholic world power. Otherwise, this section, not to mention the rest of the whole encyclical, makes absolutely no sense. Think about what the Pope has already said in this very document about human institutions. They can’t be trusted and they screw things up. Hell, it’s the reason he gives for the whole economic crisis in the first place. This is very much in line with his Augustinian view of things. Why would he suddenly shift gears and be clamoring for an even bigger human institution with more power to screw things up than maybe any other such group in the history of the world? It’s because he wants this thing to be run by what the Church says. When he talks about common good and integral human development, he’s consistently tied it to spreading the Gospel.

I’m actually going to get even weirder in a few sentences.

Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums.

Of course, or else this entity would not be an authority at all. This is the part that really worries people, though. All this “ensure compliance” stuff sounds really nice until it threatens national sovereignty. It’s a reason to be concerned, for sure, except that I truly think the Pope is talking about something that will take us back to old-school “line of demarcation” type Church authority over things. We aren’t talking about the Church replacing the State. Subsidiarity, after all, plus he’s already dealt with this in Deus Caritas Est. We’re talking about the Church being the final court of appeal on this stuff.

Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.

When it comes to the “moral order,” who is mankind’s teacher? Who can determine such conformity? The Church, of course. This is actually nothing new, as Dignitatis Humanae from Vatican II says that legislation must be in accordance with the objective moral order, which can only be translated as what the Church says.

I concede to my critics, and I know there will be many, that the last bit about the UN Charter is disconcerting, but even that is vague. Are we talking structurally, in the substance of its content, its scope, etc? I maintain that, given the full context of the encyclical (and this section especially), the Pope isn’t talking about some sort of secular paradise.

Which brings me to my last point- New World Order, One World Government, and the Rise of the AntiChrist. Lots of folks have brought this up. Once folks perceived the danger of absolutism in the Pope’s proposed organization, this was the next leap for a lot of religious people, especially Protestants who might be inclined to think badly of us papists anyway. Catholics are worried about it, too. For a good commentary about this, check Boniface’s stuff over at Unam Sanctam.

Here’s where I’m going to get really weird, and you should all don your tin-foil hats. From my reading of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church about the End Times, and I readily admit that guys like Boniface know way more than I do, but it seems to me that the One World Government isn’t the problem. What happens is that you have a One World Government that is the height of awesome but then gets fractured into 10 parts with ten rulers. After that, the AntiChrist shows up and wipes out 3 of the 10. The other rulers surrender. All hell breaks loose.

Digging a little bit deeper, you find a lot of references to this One World Government as being run by the ultimate Catholic political figure, now commonly known as the “Great Catholic Monarch.” As an aside, there are also some items about a super-Pope that reigns at the same time, who is known as the "Angelic Pastor." My point in all this is to say that the New World Order is considered by many to be something that will be the Church’s finest hour. It’s the breakdown of that order that will herald the End Times.

Given my reading of the encyclical, my conclusion is that Pope Benedict is not setting the stage for the AntiChrist. He’s setting the stage for the Great Monarch. Make of it what you will, folks. I’m just calling it how I see it.

We’ll try to finish this up in the next couple of days and get to our next installment in the Vatican II series.

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