Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Inflation is taxation without legislation.”     Milton Friedman

August 13, 2007

Pope Benedict Condemns Tax Havens

by Doug Mataconis

Let me start this out by saying that while I was raised, baptized, and confirmed in the Catholic Church, I am far from the most religious Catholic out there. I have alot of respect, even reverence, for the traditions of the Church, but, as this latest encyclical from Pope Benedict XVI seems to confirm, the contemporary Catholic Church really has no understanding of fundamental economics:

Pope Benedict XVI is working on a doctrinal pronouncement that will condemn tax evasion as “socially unjust”, according to Vatican sources.

In his second encyclical – the most authoritative statement a pope can issue – the pontiff will denounce the use of “tax havens” and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole.

It will focus on humanity’s social and economic problems in an era of globalisation. Pope Benedict intends to argue for a world trade and economic system “regulated in such a way as to avoid further injustice and discrimination”, Ignazio Ingrao, a Vatican watcher, said yesterday.

The encyclical, drafted during his recent holiday in the mountains of northern Italy, takes its cue from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), issued 40 years ago. In it the pontiff focused on “those peoples who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance and are looking for a wider share in the benefits of civilisation”. He called on the West to promote an equitable world economic system based on social justice rather than profit.

Leaving aside the fact that the encyclical ignores historical facts such as the complete failure of any economic system based on the idea of “an equitable world system based on social justice rather than profit,” it’s disturbing that the Church seems to ignore history, and the complete and abject failure of that laboratory of socialism known as the Soviet Union and it’s allies. Moreover, given the fact that socialism in power has traditionally been an enemy of religion, one would think that the Church would think twice about endorsing its underlying premises.

So, yes, according to the Catholic Church, taking steps to prevent the state from taking your property is wrong.

Something tells me there’s something wrong with that idea to begin with.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway


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10 Comments

  1. I can’t help but note that the article makes at least one error that makes me question the competence of the reporter.

    An encyclical is not the most authoritative declaration a Pope can make. That would be an infallible ex cathedra statement on a matter of faith and morals. This encyclical would appear not to qualify — and dissent from this teaching would therefore be a legitimate exercise of Christian conscience.

    Comment by Rhymes With Right — August 13, 2007 @ 11:32 pm
  2. If this is true, it is even more of a reason why I never really took to being raised Catholic. Perhaps the Pope needs to rephrase his message just a little bit and say that it is better to donate one’s money to care for others rather than repeating the idea that the government should come in, steal money from people, and then give it to the poor. Reminds me of Dr. Walter Williams’s quote, “After all, when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ I’m sure that he didn’t mean thou shalt not steal unless there is a majority vote in Congress.”

    Guess we can add “Thou shalt not steal unless there be a Papal decree” to that list too.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — August 14, 2007 @ 12:27 am
  3. “Leaving aside the fact that the encyclical ignores historical facts such as the complete failure of any economic system based on the idea of “an equitable world system based on social justice rather than profit,” it’s disturbing that the Church seems to ignore history, and the complete and abject failure of that laboratory of socialism known as the Soviet Union and it’s allies.”

    To be fair, the church isn’t known for it’s speed responding to outright fact. After all, it was nearly a century and a half between condemning Galileo and accepting heliocentrism. And heck, it was only 1992 when the church officially expressed regret over what they did to him.

    Since socialism was truly discredited mainly in the last half century (really the last 10-30 years), the church still has 100 years or so before they will catch up.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — August 14, 2007 @ 12:36 am
  4. You know, the church is very vague in this area. While it promotes social justice, it also promotes the principle of subsidiarty. For our senior theology class, we took social justice, and, honestly, the language in church teaching is so vague, one can bend the views to sound socialist or capitalist. One pope condemns capitalism; another condemns socialism, it’s back and forth. Here is a quote from my senior theology book:

    “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also is it an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate associations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” – Pope Pius XI

    It would appear Pope Benedict does not share his predecesor’s views… unfortunate really.

    Comment by Ryan — August 14, 2007 @ 1:31 am
  5. Is the Pope saying that those governments whose taxes are being “avoided/evaded” are so innocent? What if I use tax havens to avoid funding a genocidal regime? That certainly applies to the United States.

    This sloppy/biased thinking by the Church is why I’m not (and never will be again) a practicing Catholic.

    Comment by J Kaminski — August 14, 2007 @ 11:43 am
  6. This sloppy/biased thinking by the Church is why I’m not (and never will be again) a practicing Catholic.

    The Church rarely engages in sloppy thinking. Wait until the full report issues.

    As a matter of Christian doctrine, Christians are commanded to submit to the government, and Jesus himself demonstrates submission by paying taxes (albeit in a bizarre way). I don’t see anarchism written in the Bible anywhere. If Christians are supposed to submit to the government, evading taxes would be a problem, no?

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 14, 2007 @ 12:21 pm
  7. I seem to recall this pope decrying both communism and capitalism within the last year. This pope has also made many comments condemning individualism, “greed,” etc. while promoting socialist phraseology such as “for the common good.” It’s very clear to me that the Catholic Church embraces the idea of collectivism and other philosophy which is antithetical to the philosophy of life, liberty, and property. The same is true for any other religion I can think of.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 14, 2007 @ 1:14 pm
  8. FIRST, I must clarify one important thing: The encyclical has NOT even be published as of yet.
    No one knows exactly what is within it!

    Has anyone of you heard of Daniel E. Moore (USAF Veteran) and of his “A.C.E. Network Mission Alliance Foundation”?
    http://www.acenetworkmission.com/

    See also, “The Mondragon Corporation” in Spain:

    http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/Ing/Index.asp

    It was founded in 1956. Like other communities this region has engaged in many different economic activities within the field of mutual cooperation. These activities developed into official institutions such as consumer cooperatives. Catholic priest Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta born in the province of Vizcaya was a highly pragmatic, hard working man who was the driving force behind this community business model that allows all participants to be stakeholders and served as an exemplary role model until his death in 1976. The A.C.E. Network Mission leadership team aims to further and improve upon his vision, create healthy and robust local economies and return power and profits to ordinary citizens.

    The GLOBAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT
    http://www.globaljusticemovement.org/thirdway.htm

    The PROJECT FOR AMERICA
    http://www.apfn.org/old/apfncont.htm

    Comment by Christella Bernardene Krebs — August 15, 2007 @ 3:24 pm
  9. Sorry, an appendature:

    see also “The Center for Economic and Social Justice”
    http://www.cesj.org/

    Comment by Christella Bernardene Krebs — August 15, 2007 @ 3:34 pm
  10. The Pope has been awarded with the Kim Jong-Il Prize for this.

    Comment by Sisyphos — August 16, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

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