• The Pope, Like Everyone Else, Is Pissed About the Economy

    pope-walking-smToday Pope Benedict XVI released his third encyclical, which is Catholic for "trend piece," and this 144-pager is all about the sinful causes and ungodly effects of the current econopocalypse.

    In other words: Wall Street, drop and give me twenty Hail Marys

    In "Charity in Truth," Benedict denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality of the globalized economy and lamented that greed had brought about the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    "Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end," he wrote. "Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty."

    Of course, you're thinking to yourself, the Catholic Church itself is fantastically wealthy. Presumably it doesn't store its money under Pope Benedict's mattress, either, so is it possible that the Vatican's investments somehow contributed to the spread of the crisis? And the answer is no, because the Vatican has its very own bank, and this bank is not run by the same kinds of people who sliced and diced sketchy mortgage-backed assets…

    Last October, at the start of the meltdown, a top Vatican bank official issued assurances that its deposits were safe and had no liquidity problems, saying the bank had stayed away from derivatives, the financial instruments blamed for many of the steep loses in the meltdown.

    Other officials have said 80 percent of the Vatican's investments are in low-yield government bonds and 20 percent in stocks and that the Vatican follows an ethical code: no investments in companies that produce arms or contraceptives.

    Now that's some really admirable economic thinking.

    After all, nothing creates wealth and reduces poverty like making sure millions of women without health care have millions of babies they can't afford to feed.

    Tags: Christianity, Economy, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Vatican


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