The frontrunner to be the next pope has criticised neo-liberalism and called on the rich world to do more to help the poor.
There is a world where it is possible to ‘wipe the tears from the eyes of those who suffer injustice‘. So says the man tipped by many to become the 294th successor to St. Peter as Pope and spiritual leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who currently serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is a renowned champion of the poor and marginalised.
In a lecture at Durham University Centre for Catholic Studies two years ago, Cardinal Turkson argued that:
“…despite the naysayers, economic resources do exist that could help wipe the tears from the eyes of those who suffer injustice, who lack the basics of a dignified life, and who are in danger from any deterioration in the climate.”
In a call to action, he added that the poor “benefit from champions in solidarity who believe that injustice can be reduced, that harmonious relationships can be fostered, that our planetary ecology can be made sustainable, that a world of greater communion is possible”.
In October 2011, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace he heads set out a radical critique of global financial arrangements, which skew wealth and power away from developing countries.
‘ Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority’ argues that to work in the interests of all, the economy needs an ethical framework ‘and not just of any kind but one that is people-centred‘.
The report argues that economic liberalism ‘spurns rules and controls’ and is a form of ‘economic apriorism’ which detaches theory from the harmful effects of policies.
It argues that ‘no-one can in conscience accept the development of some countries to the detriment of others‘, and that the effects of allowing inequalities to go unchecked will be to “create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid”.
The effect of globalisation makes ‘individuals and peoples increasingly interconnected and interdependent’, but monetary and financial markets ‘of a predominantly speculative sort’ remain ‘harmful for the real economy, especially of the weaker countries.’
While globalisation can lead to ‘a more intense and fruitful collaboration’ between peoples, it needs institutions to underpin it and the post-war Bretton Woods settlement of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund no longer have the necessary stabilization powers ‘within [their]reach’.
The report calls for a new supra-national body to help regulate global finance, which should be ‘the outcome of a free and shared agreement and a reflection of the permanent and historic needs of the world common good’.
The bookmakers have Cardinal Turkson as 3/1 favourite to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.
A conclave of 117 cardinal-electors will choose his successor.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.