Pope Francis has frequently criticized the economic system and capitalism as inadequate to help the poor.
The Global Foundation, an Australian non-profit that promotes discussion between business, government and other civil institutions, organized the meeting. The meeting at the Vatican discussed job creation for women and youth as well as how to end modern slavery.
Australian Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief headlined the meeting. “Market economics have brought unprecedented prosperity and represent, despite their many faults and deficiencies, an extraordinary human achievement,” Pell told the 50-odd attendees that included International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, McKinsey managing director Dominic Barton, Anglo American chief Mark Cutifani and Robert Thomson, chief executive officer of News Corp, which owns The Australian. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State also addressed the roundtable yesterday saying that the pope had lauded the “spirit of enterprise.”
Pope Francis has raised tensions between the Vatican and defenders of modern capitalism to unprecedented levels. He has championed the “rights of workers,” provides the rhetoric and moral high ground for enemies of capitalism, for those who would take us back to a feudal and backward-looking society,” said Kishore Jayabalan, a former Vatican staff member.
Business leaders have made a number of attempts to amend the tense relations with the Vatican. For instance, Exxon sent a top lobbyist to brief the Vatican on its economic views, and Unilever chief Paul Polman praised the pope’s message on the environment. In 2013 mining executives came to the Vatican for two meetings focused on the criticisms of the social and environmental impact of mining. They had to learn to “speak each other’s language.” Following that meeting the Vatican organized a separate meeting with mining protesters in 2014 that included a “pointed message saying that the mining companies had been guilty of causing pollution and violating human rights in their labour practices.”
In a recent meeting, Christine Lagarde, IMF chief, who met with the pope during the two day meeting, echoed Francis in a speech in which she said, ““Getting back on the right path requires education and leadership that is sustained over many years … most importantly of all, it requires investors and financial leaders taking values as seriously as valuation, culture as seriously as capital.”
Also echoing the papal call for morality in the global economic system is Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the G20’s Financial Stability Board, said in a 2015 speech that “to restore trust in the broader financial system, global financial institutions need to rediscover their values.” He added, “Integrity cannot be legislated, and it certainly cannot be bought. It must come from within.”
Papal influence over global economics has business leaders concerned. They see Pope Francis as one of the most threatening forces that is undermining trust in the economic system and must do something about it. Through expertly crafted criticism, that Francis knows how to wield magnificently, the very popular pope creates a global social dynamic that brings those he criticizes to his feet to discuss ways to mend the relationship and stop the criticism. It is a masterful stroke to bring the world to its knees in reverence for papal influence and thus under papal control.
The pope may be able to force at least some change, which would bring the financial sector reluctantly under papal authority. The pope is rapidly bringing the key sectors of global social, business, economic and religious institutions into line with the Vatican.
“Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.” Isaiah 23:8, 9
“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” Revelation 18:2, 3
“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more…” Revelation 18:11