Tuesday, April 15, 2008



The following comes from Chiesa. Sandro Magister reviews a book titled MONEY AND PARADISE: THE GLOBAL ECONOMY AND THE CATHOLIC WORLD, with a preface by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. According to the review:

The book was written in the form of a conversation, with the questions posed by Rino Cammilleri, a Catholic writer and historian with a traditionalist outlook. The one responding is Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, Italy's president for the Banco Santander Central Hispano, the leading bank in Spain and one of the greatest in Europe. Gotti Tedeschi is also an administrative consultant for Sanpaolo IMI, the only Italian bank quoted on Wall Street, and for the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the bank of the Italian government. He teaches at the Catholic University of Milan.

Gotti Tedeschi denies that there is any such thing as a "Catholic economy." It is enough for him that he can work in the economy as a Catholic – and he does not hide his faith. He cites with admiration José Maria Escrivá de Balaguer, the canonized founder of Opus Dei, and Fr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation. The scholars he says he agrees with the most are the Catholic free-market supporters Michael Novak, Robert Sirico, Dario Antiseri, and Flavio Felice, in addition to Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), the master of the Austrian school of economics, and Samuel Huntington, author of "The Clash of Civilizations." Gotti Tedeschi vindicates without hesitation "the superiority of an economy inspired by Christian morality."

I don't see any qualifications about Randians in there. A bit further into the report he does offer a sort of qualification:

...since Keynes – Gotti Tedeschi maintains – "Catholic morality was definitively asked to occupy itself no more with economic matters, leaving the task to scholars." Since then there has prevailed an "economic Machiavellianism" that sacrifices man to power and profit.

But this outcome – Gotti Tedeschi says – is not the unalterable destiny of the market economy. "Capitalism was born in the home of Catholicism, for the exaltation of the dignity of man"; it was born in Italy in the 13th century with the theories of Franciscan theologians, "when Protestantism, to which Max Weber's famous thesis attributes the birth of the 'spirit of capitalism', was yet to arrive." And Protestantism was responsible, if anything, for the later defects of capitalism: profiteering, determinism, laissez-faire, the law of the strongest. In England, where the modern industrial revolution arrived together with its exploitations, the Catholic Church had disappeared. And this explains why the Catholic world became increasingly diffident and hostile toward the free market economy. It took John Paul II, with his 1991 encyclical "Centesimus Annus," to summon Catholics to have faith again in the value of capitalism and profit.

There is another indication that Acton may have more than a passing interest in Opus Dei.

At the Acton Institute website is a tribute to Rafael Termes (1918-2005). There you can read

He was an integral developer of the IESE Business School in Spain since its founding in 1958, and served as director of its Madrid campus. Termes served on the board of Banco Poplular, and from 1977 to 1990, he led the Spanish Banking Association. He was also a member of the Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences and the Royal Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics. Among the many awards Don Termes was awarded in his life are the Spanish government's Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and the French government's Knight of the Legion of Honor.

Termes was among the first members of the prelature Opus Dei in Barcelona.

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