After missing the mark for years on many aspects of sexual morality, after disgracefully mishandling the sexual abuse crisis in the church, the Vatican has spoken on the right side of history on the current Occupy Wall Street issue in a statement yesterday that got less attention in the mainstream media than it deserved.
In keeping with statements by modern popes going back to Leo XIII, the Catholic Church sided with the protesters around the world demanding more economic equality. It advocated an overhaul of the world's economic system in the context of the universal common good rather than the individualized greed that has dominated Wall Street and its counterparts elsewhere.
In a powerful statement attacking what it calls the "idolotry of the market," the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace sent the world's leaders a much-needed message insisting that prudent regulation of the financial system is a moral priority.
I hope the various Catholic Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress, who are happy when the church takes stances on life issues in keeping with the conservative agenda, pay attention to this statement and realize that the issue of justice involved in this movement transcends politics. If they are to remain Catholics, they have to do more than defend the life of the unborn. What about justice for those who are born into an unjust society?
To those in the media who seem surprised that the Vatican would be on the progressive/liberal side, I can only say, look at what the popes from 1880 or so on have said about social justice and the rights of individuals. Their critique of uncontrolled capitalism has now been articulated in stronger language than before. And it is most welcome.