On April 15, 2020, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had asked the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to create a special commission to study and analyze the “socio-economic and cultural challenges” caused by the pandemic, and to propose guidelines to deal with it.
This special commission is supposed to show the Church’s concern for “the human family.” It is made up of five working groups, allocated as shown in an organization chart worthy of that of the United Nations (UN) commissions.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery, informed Vatican News of the objectives of the various groups making up the commission: the first focuses on emergency, with Caritas Internationalis. It is charged with assessing real needs and helping to develop effective and adequate responses. The second group seeks to “connect the best intelligence” in the fields of ecology, economics, health, and social security. In this area, “we need prediction, creativity,” said the Ghanaian prelate blandly. This group is to cooperate with the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The third group aims to “create a new consciousness via a method of communication.” The idea is to “publicize the work” accomplished by the commission, so as to call for a “renewed commitment.” Together with the Secretary of State, the fourth group will deal with all possible initiatives in relations with states. The aim is to achieve “concrete measures.” Lastly, the fifth group will endeavor to find the necessary funds, “transparently” (sic). To do this, “a virtuous circularity of wealth” (re-sic) is essential.
Pope Francis Suggests Creating a Universal Wage
Without waiting for concrete proposals from this special commission, Pope Francis has already launched ideas for the post-coronavirus era. In this sense, on April 12, he sent a letter to the “popular movements.” According to the Vaticanist Sandro Magister, these movements—which Francis had already addressed in Rome in 2014, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 2015, and again in Rome in 2016—“have nothing overtly Catholic about them.” “They are in part the heirs of the memorable anti-capitalist and anti-globalization gatherings in Seattle and Porto Alegre. Plus the multitude of rejects from which the pope sees bursting forth ‘that torrent of moral energy which springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny.’”
On April 12, Francis addressed a letter to these popular movements, declaring: “This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”
Not surprisingly, this suggestion received the support of Stefano Zamagni, professor of political economy at the University of Bologna and especially president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who affirmed on April 14: “The proposal made by the Pope Francis to institute a universal salary deserves to be retained by economists.”
Jean-Jacques Friboulet, professor emeritus of economic history at the University of Fribourg, is more reserved. In an interview on cath.ch on April 19, he said, “I am a devotee of Pope Francis, but speaking of a universal wage seems to me to be ill-advised. It’s a bold, but fragile position. The universal wage is a question of income redistribution. However, on the human level, universal redistribution does not exist. Redistribution exists only within states or between countries, in the case of Europe. Furthermore, to provide an income, one must first ensure sufficient production. The idea, or at least the term, strikes me as rather odd in this context… Such a system, unlike unemployment benefits and partial unemployment, cannot be sustainable. The first problem is its funding… You can do it once, but it’s a system from underdeveloped countries. My second objection is that a universal wage cannot replace or serve as a social system. It is not by rewarding everyone that we allow the weakest to get off the hook. I have studied the question of the crisis of the 1930s [the Great Depression] in the United States a lot. It was the subject of my thesis. One of the reasons that the U.S. recovery was delayed was precisely the lack of a social system.”
Laudato si ’, Charter of the Post-Coronavirus Era?
During the April 22 general audience, broadcast from the library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis celebrated the 50th anniversary of International Earth Day. On this occasion he took up the teachings of his encyclical Laudato si’ (2015) and his apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia (2020), launching a new appeal for an “ecological conversion”: “we need to look at our common home, the earth, in a new way,” he said. “We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbors, and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent Father who provides for everyone.”
In the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of April 23, Riccardo Cascioli comments: “What was experienced yesterday at the Vatican could be archived as a new great manifestation of ecological thought which is the hallmark of this pontificate. Which would be bad enough, but what happened yesterday is much worse, it is the definitive fusion of thought and action between the Holy See and global environmental pressure groups.”
And he went on to denounce two historical inspirers of the environmental movement: Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005), the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, and the billionaire Hugh Moore (1887-1972). The first was a convinced ecologist, a sort of ancestor of Al Gore [U.S. vice-president under Bill Clinton and author of Earth in the Balance in 1992. Editor's note], the second has always been keen to orient American policy towards birth control.
“It was Hugh Moore himself, who, in 1954 published a pamphlet titled ‘The Population Bomb,’ which was then made universally famous thanks to the book, The Population Bomb, written by biologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968. And it was Hugh Moore again who invented the slogan that would give the final perspective to Earth Day: ‘people pollute.’ This is how the environmental movement and the birth control movement merged, both heirs of the eugenic societies born in the United States in the late 19th century. Since then, the anti-natalist and environmentalist movements - from the Sierra Club to the Worldwatch Institute, from Planned Parenthood to Zero Population Growth - have spoken the same language, and these movements have obviously grown thanks to generous funding from major American foundations.”
Mr. Cascioli warns with seriousness: “When they speak of the defense of the environment, these people do not at all have in mind the care of creation from a Christian point of view; on the contrary, their idea is that man is the real enemy of the earth and that his presence must therefore be limited: both quantitatively (birth control, especially in poor countries) and qualitatively (brake on economic growth, up to the theory of what is called a ‘happy decrease’).” And the Italian journalist deplores the Vatican's participation in the 50th Earth Day, which manifests “the surrender of the Church to the power of the world.”
Convergence of Views Between the Vatican and the UN
On April 9, on the Réinformation.tv website, Jeanne Smits presented UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres special report for the post-coronavirus world. This roadmap, dated March 31, calls for increased globalization, suggesting that more than 10% of global GDP be devoted to dealing with the crisis, under the aegis of international institutions.
A. Guterres says: “A large-scale, coordinated, and comprehensive multilateral response, representing at least 10% of world GDP, is more necessary than ever. This crisis is truly global. It is in everyone's interest to ensure that developing countries have the best chance of dealing with this crisis, otherwise COVID-19 risks becoming a lasting drag on economic recovery.”
And this must be done through international organizations: “On March 13, WHO, the United Nations Foundation, and the Swiss Foundation for Philanthropy launched the first COVID-19 solidarity fund, which enables individuals, businesses, and institutions around the world to come together to contribute directly to global response efforts.”
J. Smits comments: “On the socio-economic plan which forms the main part of the framework of the UN report, the accent is put on universal health insurance, likewise unemployment insurance, and a gigantic global stimulus plan ‘to avoid bankruptcies and massive job loss.’ Nationalization, the refusal of any different organization, even private, at the level of sovereign states.
“This notably involves the establishment of a basic or universal income, drawn from the wealth (or what is left of it) of countries to ensure both a survival income and a dependency by everyone with regard to the welfare state. The UN report puts it this way: ‘We should not be content with just protecting the incomes of those affected by this crisis, but put in place social protection systems to guarantee everyone a basic income.’”
The Pope’s April 12 letter to the popular movements is in accordance with the March 31 report of the UN Secretary General. This confirms the validity of the Sandro Magister’s conclusion, during his conference on The Political Outlook of Pope Francis, given to Anagni on November 30, 2019, - already cited here (see DICI n ° 391, December 2019). This secular flattening is not anecdotal in Pope Francis’ political view. “In Corriere della Sera of last October 2 Ernesto Galli della Loggia hit the mark when he recognized in this pontificate the tendency to dissolve Catholicism ‘in the indistinct,’ to interpret ‘the intimate missionary vocation of Catholicism toward the world as equivalent to the need to become confused with the world itself.’ Only that in the world, beginning in the second half of the 1900s, there is imposing itself ‘an ethical ideology of naturalistic inspiration’ made of individual rights, of pacifism, of environmentalism, of anti-Semitism, which to religious discourse, when it does not exclude it altogether, assigns only a subordinate place, decorative.”
“So when Pope Francis lays down every trait of the Church’s historical identity and assimilates it with the ideology and language of the world, he is making a very, very risky choice. He would like to make the world Christian, with the serious danger instead of making the Church worldly.”