The Vatican’s Quest for a World Political Authority
By Carl Teichrib
In 1990, a former Vatican-insider claimed that a titanic struggle was being waged to bring about a world political system. This contest, the now deceased Jesuit explained, was primarily between three players: international Leninism, transnational business elites, and the hand of the Vatican.
Almost twenty years have passed since Malachi Martin drew attention to this three-way quest. At the time his assertions seemed over-the-top. Granted, the idea of a world government via communism wasn’t new as decades of Cold War posturing still played in our minds. And the writing was on the wall in respect to the growing power of international corporate and financial elites, exemplified by the likes of David Rockefeller and the Trilateral Commission.
But the Vatican?
For many, the belief that the Holy See was pursing a vision of world government was simply too much. After all, this ancient hub of Roman Catholicism had a reputation – especially among Europe’s agnostic youth – as an institution of old men, steeped in tradition, procession and ceremony. Never mind that the history of the Continent, more often than not, revolved around the Vatican’s political prowess.
In the summer of 2009, the Holy See’s political cards were revealed in a major papal document. Hearkening back to Malachi Martin’s talk of world government, the most powerful religious office on the planet had promoted a world political authority to manage the global economy. Food security, disarmament, and peace would follow suit.
A sound global economy and world peace are noble sounding goals, to be sure. But the danger lurks in that the seeds of tyranny are often buried in the soil of good intentions.
On July 7th, Pope Benedict released his new encyclical titled Caritas in Veritate, or “Charity in Truth.” Two years in the making, this document was disclosed on the eve of the G8 Summit in Italy and the Pope’s meeting with US President Barack Obama. Some 30,000 words long, this encyclical outlined the Pope’s concerns regarding globalization and economics, corporate ethics, and the role of the Catholic Church in promoting social doctrine.
Commenting on the encyclical, The New York Times noted that, “sometimes Benedict sounds like an old-school European socialist…”  And The San Francisco Chronicle explained that,
“Caritas in Veritate addresses very modern issues such as globalization, market economy, hedge funds, outsourcing, and alternative energy, calling for people to put aside greed and let their consciences guide them in economic and environmental decisions. Many of the ideas put forward would likely rankle conservatives…” 
E.J. Dionne, a columnist for The Washington Post, gushed that Benedict is “well to Obama’s left on economics.” 
While Pope Benedict’s perspective on the global economy was a perplexing blend of free-market and social welfare ideals, what raised eyebrows were his thoughts on international politics. In section 67 of Caritas in Veritate, the Pope dropped an ideological bombshell – a world authority to “manage the economy,” bring about “timely disarmament,” and ensure “food security and peace.”
Here is a major part of section 67. The reference to a “world political authority” is very clear, and Pope Benedict explains that this international agency should be given the power of enforcement… “real teeth.”
“In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums.”
Immediate controversy surrounded this paragraph, with some Catholics quickly attempting to distance the idea that the Holy See would support world government.
Hierarchy Of Power
John-Henry Westen, writing for LifeSiteNews, stated unequivocally that the Pope was speaking “directly against a one-world government.” Westen’s justification for this position was the Pope’s call for a “dispersed political authority” in paragraph 41 – a reference to the role of States in the international system. Westen also brought up the use of the word “subsidiarity” in section 57 as a strike against world government.
This is an important point: Subsidiarity is the Catholic social teaching that issues should be dealt with at the lowest level possible. In many respects it builds on the theme of self-determination, and in this sense it would seem antithetical to a world authority.
Section 57 of Caritas in Veritate says,
“In order not to produce a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature, the governance of globalization must be marked by subsidiarity, articulated into several layers and involving different levels that can work together. Globalization certainly requires authority, insofar as it poses the problem of a global common good that needs to be pursued. This authority, however, must be organized in a subsidiary and stratified way, if it is not to infringe upon freedom and if it is to yield effective results in practice.”
Mr. Westen, who claims that Benedict’s use of subsidiarity opposes world government, has misdiagnosed this section. The Pope is not speaking against one-world government by evoking subsidiarity; instead he’s offering a hierarchical model upon which to build an international authority. Essentially, where issues can be dealt with at the local or national level, let them be handled in this domain. And where issues are global and cannot be adequately addressed at a lower level, then a world authority is necessary.
Pope Benedict also suggested that subsidiarity could be a safety value that checks the power of a universal government against taking on tyrannical traits. But to propose that subsidiarity is a counter to tyranny is unconvincing – it can’t even check the expansion of over-government today.
John Laughland, author of The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea, noted that, “…the German constitution has become increasingly centralised as a result of its subsidiarity clause.” The European Union also incorporates this concept, yet that hasn’t stopped the EU from centralizing political power and amassing a super-bloated bureaucracy. Subsidiarity, according to Laughland, is a model that assumes a “unitarian, pyramidal hierarchy of executive functions” with a decidedly corporatist doctrine. 
Subsidiarity can even be found in the UN system. Professor Robert Araujo explains that, “the principle of subsidiarity is recognized as a fundamental principle of the United Nations Organization.” Here, the concept is centered on self-determination under article 1, paragraph 2 of the UN Charter. Yet this doesn’t stop the UN from seeking empowered international jurisdiction under the banner of “reform.”
It’s important to note that subsidiarity does allow for grassroots decision-making and self-direction, but it’s within the context of a broader perspective. Professor Araujo explains that it’s a “a concept synthesizing the interests of the individual with those of the community.” Hence, it’s not difficult to see how this principle can align itself with a world authority – you can pursue local political direction, but where local involvement ends then other levels of government step up for the “common good.”
To say that Pope Benedict opposes world government because he evoked subsidiarity misses the point: subsidiarity plays a functioning role in a hierarchy of increasing political powers. What paragraph 57 demonstrates is not an aversion to world government, but the order of decision-making Benedict believes it should be based upon.
Reform And World Authority
Paragraph 67 of Caritas in Veritate is overtly political in nature. Here’s a breakdown of some key points.
“Reform the United Nations” – UN reform centers on more than just “voting changes” or “transparency.” Rather, reform is connected to world taxation, a global enforcement component, and the creation of an international parliament. A small mountain of reports and documents that support this version of reform already exist, supported by the United Nations, national governments, and pro-UN groups such as the World Federalist Movement and the Club of Rome.  In fact, this platform of international taxation, enforcement, and a world parliament were major discussion points at the UN Millennium Forum – particularly during the sessions hosted by the working group on “Strengthening and Democratizing the United Nations.”
Cliff Kincaid, the editor of Accuracy in Media, noted the linkages between reform and global governance in section 67 of the papal text; “…the ‘reform’ of the U.N. is designed to strengthen it. Hence, the U.N. is clearly destined, from the Vatican point of view, to become the World Political Authority.” Reform of the UN goes far beyond new office furniture.
“Responsibility to protect” – Known as R2P, this is a world federalist ideal that would give the UN a mandate to intervene domestically when a nation commits human rights violations. It sounds good on the surface, but critics – and even some advocates – realize that such a mandate may open Pandora’s Box.
José E. Alvarez, President of the American Society of International Law, recognized this situation while addressing a conference on international law at The Hague in 2007. R2P, he suggested, could be used as a pretext to engage in all sorts of questionable, interventionist actions. 
Nobody in their right mind wishes for any people group to experience genocide or gross injustices. R2P, however, is a seriously flawed concept that has the potential for grave abuses. From a world management perspective, the Responsibility to Protect becomes the legal justification for a world political authority to act militarily. The danger lurks in that the seeds of tyranny are often buried in the soil of good intentions.
For more on the R2P concept see Volume 2, Issue 7 of Forcing Change(www.forcingchange.org), “Kosovo and the International Community: Just Another Pawn in the Game.”
“To manage the global economy…” – This is already being discussed within the international community, and it’s looking like the new world financial order will be a top-down power structure that will greatly empower existing global institutions. Four entities immediately come to mind.
1. Bank for International Settlements - to become the global banking regulator. The BIS is fast setting itself up as the international banking manager, a body that will oversee the world’s banks and financial system, including the regulation of international capital. An entity of this kind would be equivalent to a banker’s “king of the hill.” The Los Angeles Times wrote last year that, “…such a system would force countries to give up a measure of national sovereignty over banks operating within their borders. It also could lead to international bureaucrats trying to shape financial policy and possibly taking punitive action.”
2. International Monetary Fund – to become the world reserve currency bank. Under this scheme, the IMF would be charged with regulating a new global currency to be used in world trade, including the energy sector. Collaborating with the World Bank, the IMF would likewise use this new currency unit for international loans and debt obligations. National and regional currencies would still exist, at least for the interim, but values would react and adjust according to new global benchmarks.
3. World Trade Organization – becoming the global trade regulator. The WTO would establish the rules for the trading of goods and services via a globally organized set of standard, a process it’s currently working through. National trade policies would hereafter line up with accepted world practices. All of this is already happening, but there’s a further link between global free trade and a new international financial system. Richard Cooper, while advocating a single global reserve currency, noted the following in a 1984 conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,
“It would be logical if free [world] trade accompanied this single currency regime. That would also be consistent with the collaborative political spirit that would be required to establish the single currency regime. Free trade would insure one market in goods as well as in financial instruments.” 
4. United Nations – fast becoming the global ethics and governance agency. The UN would give moral input and political guidance to the newly managed world economy. In essence, this body would become the “planetary consciousness,” shaping consumer and political attitudes, values, and behaviors. This too is already happening. At the end of June, the UN hosted a conference that outlined an accepted social norm for the global economy: an Earth-centric worldview, international socialism, and a New Age vision of planetary evolution.
For information and analysis on this UN conference, check out the Forcing Change report, “Building a New Common Future: Twisting Faith and Finance in a Global Order” (July, 2009). For more on the move to a single global currency, check out the Forcing Change articles, “One World, One Money” (Volume 1, Issue 12), and “The Joseph Principle and Crisis Economics” (Volume 2, Issue 9).
“An authority…regulated by law” – Governments the world over are regulated by internal laws and accountability measures, yet this doesn’t stop abuses, corruption, or even tyranny from entering the picture. The idea that a world authority could be kept in check by a system of world law doesn’t hold water.
“True world political authority” – This isn’t a moral or spiritual ideal propagated by the Holy See, but the vision of an actual world government. This is evident in the overall context of section 67 and in the wording itself: a “world political authority.”
No doubt the papal office desires to see a spiritual standard incorporated into this political entity, based in large part on the social teachings of the Catholic Church. However, this in no way guarantees that a world authority will act in good will. As history bears out, the Vatican itself is far from immune in this regard, and “holders of power” tend to amass power.
Remember the words of Lord Acton, a Catholic historian who penned the following in response to the Vatican’s unquestioning authority: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Following A Tradition
Pope Benedict’s promotion of world government didn’t happen in a vacuum. Since the 1950s the Holy See has consistently moved to support an empowered United Nations and world political authority.
Pope Pius XII: On April 6, 1951, Pope Pius XII had a meeting in the Vatican with the World Movement for World Federal Government – a precursor to the World Federalist Movement. During that meeting, Pope Pius encouraged his “world government” audience to continue in this quest.
“Your movement, Gentlemen, has the task of creating an effective political organization of the world. There is nothing more in keeping with the traditional doctrines of the Church, or better adapted to her teachings on the rightful or unjust war, especially in the present world situation. An organization of this nature must, therefore, be set up…”
The Pope then explained, rightly so, that the “deadly germs of mechanical totalitarianism” might infect this “world political organization.” However, in noting this possibility, he reminded the attendees to pursue a morally firm world federalist approach. Ending his meeting, the Pope encouraged his audience to pursue this grand idea; “…you have the courage to give yourself to this cause. We congratulate you. We would express to you Our wishes for your entire success and with all Our heart We will pray to God to grant you His wisdom and help in the performance of your task.” 
Pope John XXIII: In his 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII called for an international public authority with a “world-wide sphere of activity” to deal with global problems. This authority would be “equipped with world-wide power and adequate means for achieving the universal common good,” although it could not establish itself through force: “it must be set up with the consent of all nations.”
In contemplating how this system would work, John XXIII called upon the principle of subsidiarity, saying that this should be applied “to the relations between the public authority of the world community and the public authorities of each political community.” Subsidiarity here, like Benedict’s use of the term, doesn’t negate a world authority – it simply imposes a hierarchical structure that recognizes each level, from the bottom-to-the-top, as a key to the process. 
Pope Paul VI: While speaking at the United Nations in 1965, the adulation coming from the pope was palatable. During his talk he praised the UN system as “the obligatory path of modern civilization and world peace.”
“The edifice which you have constructed must never fall; it must be perfected, and made equal to the needs which world history will present. You mark a stage in the development of mankind, from which retreat must never be admitted… Advance always! …Let unanimous trust in this Institution grow, let its authority increase.”
Alas, Pope Paul VI called for a world government; “Is there anyone who does not see the necessity of coming thus progressively to the establishment of a world authority, able to act efficaciously on the juridical and political levels?” 
Pope John Paul II: In his 1995 speech to the UN, John Paul reflected on the historical connections between the Vatican and the world body.
“The Holy See, in virtue of its specifically spiritual mission, which makes it concerned for the integral good of every human being, has supported the ideals and goals of the United Nations Organization from the very beginning. Although their respective purposes and operative approaches are obviously different, the Church and the United Nations constantly find wide areas of cooperation on the basis of their common concern for the human family.”
Although Pope John Paul II butted heads with the United Nations over family issues, he did place enormous importance on pursuing political systems of world law. In 1985 he spoke to judges at the International Court of Justice, telling them that,
“The Holy See attaches great importance to its collaboration with the United Nations Organization and the various organisms which are a vital part of its work. The Church’s interest in the International Court of Justice goes back to the very beginnings of this Tribunal and to the events that were linked to its establishment….
The Church has consistently supported the development of an international administration of justice and arbitration as a way of peace fully resolving conflicts and as part of the evolution of a world legal system…
Strictly speaking, the present Court is no more – but it is also no less – than an initial step towards what we hope will one day be a totally effective judicial authority in a peaceful world.” 
In other speeches and writings, such as his encyclical Sollicitudo rei Socialis, John Paul called for a strengthening of world law and a “greater degree of international ordering.”  None of this has the same blatancy as Pope Benedict’s recommendation for a “world political authority,” but it does follow a common political theme – enlarged and enhanced global governance.
Pope Benedict’s idea of a “world political authority” didn’t spring out of thin air. Rather, through successive papal offices stretching back to at least Pius XII,  the Holy See has nurtured visions of an international politic.
Influencing Princes and Paupers
The fact that a religious leader has called for a world authority is interesting in itself, but because this emanates from the papal office, an extra measure of attention is warranted.
We cannot overlook the influence wielded by the Holy See. The Pope is vastly different in relation to other religious figures when it comes to global significance. It’s true that some Protestant and evangelical leaders are consulted by political elites; and government officials often court the heads of other religions, such as the Dalai Lama. But all of this pales to the historical and contemporary power of the Pope.
For centuries the Holy See has been the centerpiece of European political affairs. Its history is replete with geo-political intrigues, papal wars, and the rise and fall of national powers. Royalty from every corner of the Continent has traveled to Rome seeking an audience with the Pope, hoping for papal favor. Moreover, the Vatican has been a hub for banking interests, espionage, and transnational business dealings.  And today, just as in the past, Presidents and Prime Ministers bow before the Pope, seeking his counsel, and privately discussing matters of great political, economic, and social importance.
Eric Frattini, the author of The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage, gives us a window into this geo-political world.
“The papacy, the supreme authority at the head of the Catholic Church, is the oldest established institution in the world. It was the only institution to flourish during the Middle Ages, a leading actor in the Renaissance, and a protagonist in the battles of the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, the French Revolution, the industrial era, and the rise and fall of communism. For centuries, making full use of their famous ‘infallibility,’ popes brought their centralized power to bear on the social outcomes of unfolding historical events…
…throughout history, the papacy has always displayed two faces: that of the worldwide leadership of the Catholic Church and that of one of he planet’s best political organizations. While the popes were blessing their faithful on the one hand, on the other, they were receiving foreign ambassadors and heads of states and dispatching legates and nuncios on special missions.” 
And standing behind the Pope is a worldwide following of devout Catholics, who may not agree with world government, but who are nevertheless committed to the Roman Catholic Church – thus supportive of the Pontiff. Avro Manhattan, a critic of the Holy See, correctly made the correlation between the Vatican’s power and it’s faithful.
“What gives the Vatican its tremendous power is not its diplomacy as such, but the fact that behind its diplomacy stands the Church, with all its manifold world-embracing activities…
…Vatican diplomacy is so influential and can exert such great power in the diplomatic-political field because it has at its disposal the tremendous machinery of a spiritual organization with ramifications in every country of the planet. In other words, the Vatican, as a political power, employs the Catholic Church as a religious institution to assist the attainment of its goals. These goals, in turn, are sought mainly to further the spiritual interests of the Catholic Church.
…the Catholic Hierarchy automatically reacts upon those innumerable religious, cultural, social, and finally political, organizations connected with the Catholic Church, which although tied to the Church primarily on religious grounds, can at given moments be made either directly or indirectly to serve political ends.” 
The point is this: No other religious leader on the planet holds such political and economic influence within a religious framework. Consider just the number of adherents that make up the backbone of the Church of Roman: In the US, Catholics make up approximately 22% of the populace, and of the world’s total, 17% – or about 1.14 billion people.  That’s why Pope Benedict’s call for a “world political authority” is so significant; what he says influences leaders and laymen alike by the hundreds of millions.
If the local Baptist pastor or Mennonite preacher, with a flock of a few dozen or a few hundred, appealed for a UN-styled “world political authority” it wouldn’t mean much beyond the pews of that particular church. The congregants would either cheer the minister or, hopefully, challenge his assumptions. But generally speaking it wouldn’t cause a ripple beyond the local community. However, when the “Holy Father” – a Catholic title that denotes more than just a “leader” – makes such a recommendation, and has the backing of earlier papal appeals, the waves of influence travel worldwide.
- That the Holy See has, for at least six decades, supported the quest for a global political structure.
- That Pope Benedict has, through his recent encyclical, explicitly supported the idea of a world political authority; and that this world government should be designed to incorporate the principle of subsidiarity. Further point: That subsidiarity in a universal political structure would be akin to the slogan, “think global, act local.”
- That the influence of the Holy See upon the international community is substantial, and that the Papacy has the backing and general support of hundreds of millions around the world, adding “local-to-global” support for the Vatican’s geo-political visions.
- That advocates for world government, such as the World Federalist Movement, will pick up on Pope Benedict’s recommendations and use it to parade the idea of world management.
- That many Roman Catholics and Catholic organizations will subsequently endorse the proposal for a world political authority, and hence support various movements for global governance.
- That individuals and organizations within and outside the Catholic Church will defend the Pope’s encyclical by seeking to spiritualize or moralize the text, thereby attempting to soften the controversy. Yet, the Pope’s intent for a world political authority remains.
- That a minority of Catholics will vocally oppose the Vatican’s call for UN empowerment and international government (many more will be indifferent). Ridicule may occur for those who publicly speak against Benedict’s political ideals. Expect rifts between those who oppose and those who advocate global governance.
- That non-Catholic faith groups will support Pope Benedict’s encyclical. Already an evangelical response document has been issued by a group of professors and national evangelical leaders. Titled, Doing the Truth in Love, this text agrees that new forms of global authority are necessary, but that it “must secure increased participation, transparency and accountability, and help strengthen the nation state relative to the power of global finance.”  Such a view is more utopian than practical, as few real incentives would compel a world government to operate this openly.
- That new alliances and networks will be formed to increase political and social pressure in support of world management, and that these networks will incorporate Catholic/Vatican groups, non-governmental organizations, and elements from the United Nations.
When the Holy See raises the specter of world government it should jolt Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Even if a world political authority doesn’t come to fruition, such advocacy is stunning. Here we have the planet’s most influential religious office, itself politically structured as a top-down authority, promoting a top-down system of international management. The perception alone is deeply troubling.
And if, thanks to the Holy See’s endorsement, a world political authority does come into play, what will keep it from morphing into an autocratic regime? Even in this we are assuming that the global authority will be introduced as a limited government. The ultimate contradiction, of course, is a toothless world authority. Without enforcement capabilities it would be little more than an advisory board. To be effective, therefore, it must be a centralist power with clout: Anything less would be meaningless.
But is this what the world needs to ensure global order?
Consider for a moment the last one hundred years, a century rife with examples of “well-meaning” centralist governments – they were always well meaning to somebody. In the name of “peace and security” these regimes crushed domestic opponents, often liquidating their own supporters in the process. From Chile to China the unofficial motto, “peace is the destruction of all opposition,” was translated into action. And in the case of Nazi Germany, the government rose to power through the democratic process. Sadly, in some cases the Vatican itself held the hands of those who perpetrated such crimes, as in the case of Croatia during the 1940s. 
Does all of this mean that the Holy See supports a dictatorial world regime? Not according to Pope Benedict’s encyclical, as he openly recognized the dangerous possibility of a “universal power of a tyrannical nature.” His hope, as outlined in Caritas in Veritate, is a world political authority checked by legal boundaries so as not to “infringe upon freedom.” In other words, the pope seeks accountability measures to offset government over-step.
A fine concept in theory, but it rests on a shaky assumption: That the world political authority will remain content to live within prescribed limitations; satisfied to operate within tight social, economic, and political constraints. Here’s the snag: our advanced, democratic nations – and even the Vatican – haven’t and can’t live up to this basic standard.
While Pope Benedict tries to soft-sell Catholics and national leaders on the idea of world government, the somber words of Lord Acton drift in from a nearly forgotten past: “Power corrupts…” FC
Carl Teichrib is the editor of Forcing Change (www.forcingchange.org), a monthly digest on global affairs from a Christian perspective.