segunda-feira, 21 de novembro de 2011

Usura Ainda é Pecado.


Grande texto do Presidente da American Chesterton Society, Dale Alhquist (foto acima), do site Crisis  Magazine.

The Catholic Church is always condemned for condemning sins. Since we are all sinners, sin is the last thing we want to hear about. But of course, if we don’t confess our sins and flee from our sins, sin is the last thing we will hear about.  That’s why the Church has a certain obligation to keep bringing these things up.
The Church has to do the hard and thankless work of condemning sins.  There are few folks—well, more than a few—who do not consider the Church a trustworthy authority on the subject of sin.  They are quick to point out that priests and bishops and even popes have turned out to be guilty of the same sins they have condemned.  But this excuse for questioning the authority of the Church doesn’t wear well.  It is hypocritical to criticize hypocrites.  The more interesting challenge is this: do sins change? Or rather, does the Catholic Church condemn something as being a sin in one age, but excuse it as not being a sin in another age?  This is an argument that is often used against the Church’s moral teaching.
In the 1960s many people in the Catholic Church were anticipating that Pope Paul VI would issue an encyclical that would permit contraception.  Some argued that there was precedent for such a change in the Church’s teaching.  After all, the Church once condemned usury as a sin, but no longer did.
But the encyclical Humane Vitae surprised and infuriated a lot of people: the Pope upheld the Church’s teachings instead of altering them.  He also warned about what would happen if the world embraced a contraceptive mentality: it would lead to abortion, divorce, and sexual perversion.  Turned out he was right.
But in the social and religious chaos of the second half of the 20th century, most everyone missed an important point that is now coming to bear on the economic chaos of the early 21st century: the Church also never changed her teaching on usury.  Like contraception, usury is still a sin.

It was condemned right from the beginning. In Psalm 15, which is read on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear: “Lord, who may abide in your tent?  Who may dwell on your holy mountain?  Whoever walks without blame, doing what is right, speaking truth from the heart…who keeps an oath despite the cost, lends no money at interest…”  Take a look also at Exodus 22:24, Leviticus 25:36-27, Deuteronomy 23:20, all of which clearly forbid usury.
Usury was also condemned by the Pagan philosophers Plato and Aristotle.
The theme was taken up by St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and other Church Fathers, who attacked usury in no uncertain terms.  Several popes, including St. Leo the Great, Gregory IX and Innocent III spoke out against usury.  In the 14th century, Pope Benedict XIV issued an encyclical specifically upholding the condemnation against usury, saying the Church had not changed her position (just as Pope Paul VI made clear with regards to contraception).  At least five Church Councils condemned usury, including the famous Council of Nicaea, which gave us our Creed, and the Second Lateran Council, which called usury “despicable and blameworthy by divine and human laws.”
The great Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, makes it clear: “To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this…leads to inequality which is contrary to justice.”  He argues that economic exchange is necessary to maintain a society, but unjust exchange will destroy a society, and usury, as he points out, is an example of unjust exchange.
Even Chaucer wrote that usury is “hateful to Christ and to His company.” 

The Church did not change her position against usury. The problem is the world changed its position.  As G.K. Chesterton says, during the highpoint of Christian society, usury was “everywhere denounced and forbidden.”  But now it is “everywhere flattered and condoned.”  What was condemned by all of Western civilization for centuries, led by the Church, was suddenly embraced by that civilization in the wake of the Reformation and the Enlightenment—and the rejection of faith and reason.  Chesterton points out that as we have grown “much vaguer about usury being usury,” we have grown much vaguer about all the other sins being sinful.
And what do we have to show for our ignoring this teaching of the Church?  A $12.86 trillion consumer debt.  More than 20 percent of home mortgages that exceed the value of the property.  A government that keeps spending money that it does not have.  A borrowing mentality that never considers how it is going to pay anything back.  Economic collapse.  As Chesterton warns, echoing the popes and the saints before him, usury devours and destroys: “It is a gigantic heap of debt, like a heap of dirt. It is a heap of debts hoarded until they have gone bad.  It is now a heap of bad debts which a little more bad debt will send toppling into the mire.”
Interestingly enough, there is a connection between contraception and usury.  Both are a form of taking the pleasure without paying for it, of being irresponsible and selfish, rather than fruitful and charitable.  “Usury,” says Chesterton, “is in its nature at war with life.”
But just as most people don’t want to hear about the sin of contraception, most people don’t want to hear about the sin of usury.  Because most people don’t want to hear about sin.  That continues to be a problem.  But prophets like Chesterton remind us about these things, even if we don’t listen.  “Though men may grow used to usury, and even practise it without shame under the present professional standard, yet God does not grow used to usury, any more than to murder or to devil-worship…”  Strong words.
And to anyone who would make the argument that our economy and our society depend on ignoring this Church teaching, Chesterton offers an equally stern rebuke: “It is a lie to say that the monstrous complicated accumulation of modern finance is essential to civilization, or the social and moral well-being of ordinary men and women.”
How do we get out of the mess we are in?  Looks like I’m out of space!  I will suggest, however, that we could start by praying the Our Father, and considering its literal meaning, which is: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

(Agradeço a indicação do texto ao site New Advent)

sábado, 19 de novembro de 2011

Papa: "Africa deve evitar a Rendição às Leis do Mercado e o Tribalismo"

Do site Rome Reports:

November 18, 2011. ( It was in the early afternoon, that the pope began his apostolic visit to Benin. He was greeted at Cotonou's international airport by president Thomas Yayi Boni and his wife Chantal. The pope was also welcomed by hundreds of locals who waved colored cloths and danced to traditional African rhythms.

During his first speech, the pope said, the country shouldn't forget its rich history as it continues to build its future.

Benedict XVI
“It needs to be accompanied by prudence for the good of all in order to avoid the pitfalls which exist on the African continent and elsewhere, such as the unconditional surrender to the law of the market or that of finance, nationalism or exaggerated and sterile tribalism.”

The pope also talked about the presence of the Catholic Church in Benin, especially when it comes to education and healthcare.

Benedict XVI
“She wants to be close to those who are in need, near to those who search for God. She wants to make it understood that God is neither absent nor irrelevant as some would have us believe, but that He is the friend of man.”

The visit marks the pope's second trip to Africa, but the first to Benin. The three main reasons for his apostolic visit were also laid out during his speech.

One of them is to honor late Cardinal Bernard Gantin in his native country. Gantin served as the Dean of the College of Cardinals and worked closely with Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI
“We both happily assisted my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, in the exercise of his Petrine ministry. We had many occasions to meet, to engage in profound discussions and to pray together.”

During his speech the pope also highlighted the two other reasons for his visit. They include celebrating the country's 150th evangelization anniversary. And also, presenting African bishops with a new Apostolic Exhortation. The papal document is meant to be a pastoral guide for the Church in Africa.

quinta-feira, 10 de novembro de 2011

Vaticano se Arrepende do Texto sobre Economia


Como lembrei aqui o texto não é da doutrina católica, não foi assinado pelo Papa, é apenas um texto de um Concílio Pontifício, mas parece que saiu sem os devidos cuidados. O Secretário de Estado do Vaticano não gostou do que leu e reagiu.

Too Much Confusion. Bertone Puts the Curia Under Lock and Key

The document of "Iustitia et Pax" on the global financial crisis is blasted with criticism. The secretary of state disowns it. "L'Osservatore Romano" tears it to shreds. From now on, any new Vatican text will have to be authorized in advance by the cardinal.
by Sandro Magister

ROME, November 10, 2011 – Precisely when the G20 summit in Cannes was coming to its weak and uncertain conclusion, on that same Friday, November 4 at the Vatican, a smaller summit convened in the secretariat of state was doing damage control on the latest of many moments of confusion in the Roman curia.

In the hot seat was the document on the global financial crisis released ten days earlier by the pontifical council for justice and peace. A document that had disturbed many, inside and outside of the Vatican.

The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, complained that he had not known about it until the last moment. And precisely for this reason he had called that meeting in the secretariat of state.

The conclusion of the summit was that this binding order would be transmitted to all of the offices of the curia: from that point on, nothing in writing would be released unless it had been inspected and authorized by the secretariat of state.

Of course, the fact that Bertone and his colleagues had seen that document only after its publication is astonishing in itself.

Already on October 19, in fact, five days ahead of time, the Vatican press office – which reports directly to the secretary of state – had made the announcement of the press conference to present the document, at which the speakers would be Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the pontifical council for justice and peace, and Bishop Mario Toso, the council's secretary.

Toso, a Salesian like Bertone and his longtime friend, was chosen for this office by the cardinal secretary of state himself.

As for the text of the document, the Vatican press office had given notice that it was already available in four languages, and would be distributed to accredited journalists three hours before it was made public.

On October 22, a further notification added the name of Professor Leonardo Becchetti to the ticket of the presenters.

Becchetti, a professor of economics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and an expert on microcredit and fair trade, is believed to have been the main architect of the document.

And in fact, at the press conference presenting the document on October 24, his remarks were the most specific, centered in particular on calling for the introduction of a tax on financial transactions, called a "Tobin tax" after the name of its creator, or a "Robin Hood tax."

 At the G20 summit in Cannes, the idea of this tax popped up in some of the comments of Barack Obama and Nicholas Sarkozy, but nothing concrete was done about it.

Another assertion of the Vatican document, according to which the economy of Europe is in danger of inflation rather than deflation, was contradicted on November 1 by the decision of the new governor of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who lowered the interest rate of the euro instead of raising it, as is always done when inflation is a real threat.

As for the main objective of the document, nothing less than a one world government of politics and the economy, this came out of the G20 in Cannes shredded to pieces. Not only did no one even speak vaguely of such a utopia, but the little that was decided in the concrete went in the opposite direction. The disorder in the world is now more severe than before, and has its most serious deficit in the increased the inability of European governments to guarantee "governance" of the continent.

It is little consolation for the Vatican document that it has been compared to the views of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters. Or that it was echoed in a pugnacious  article by Anglican primate Rowan Williams in the "Financial Times" on November 2, in favor of the "Robin Hood tax."

domingo, 6 de novembro de 2011

Rick Santorum: Economia e Moral

Rick Santorum, meu candidato a presidente nos Estados Unidos, chegou para discursar ontem em Des Moines (Iowa) e como todos os candidatos esperava-se que ele falasse sobre a crise econômica. Mas ele começou e centrou seu discurso na moral.

Ele disse (traduzo em azul):

"The economy is inextricably linked to the moral fabric of this country. And we can’t have a real solution-based conversation about fixing the economic problems in this country without faith and family being a large part of that conversation.”

"The family is a necessary building block for fiscal goals".

“You cannot have limited government if you have broken families because someone has to pick up the pieces, and the ones who pick up the pieces are the taxpayers." 

(A economia está intrinsecamente relacionada com o tecido moral de um país. E nós não podemos ter uma conversa voltada para solução reais para problemas econômicos neste país sem que fé e família sejam uma grande parte da conversa.

A família é pedra fundamental para objetivos fiscais.

Você não pode ter um governo limitado se você famílias destruídas, porque alguém tem juntar as partes quebradas, e aqueles que fazem isso são os contribuintes.")

Santorum disse que como presidente irá banir o aborto, defender o casamento entre homens e mulheres (já há lei para defender o casamento entre homens e mulheres nos Estados Unidos, mas o Obama não a tem defendido nos tribunais) e eliminar subsídios federais a pesquisas com células embrionárias (já há projeto de lei para isso no Congresso americano).

Acho que os Estados Unidos, como qualquer país do mundo, vai perder  chance espetacular de eleger Santorum. O mundo de hoje, e qualquer faculdade de economia, ainda não quer entender a conexão íntima entre moral e economia.

(Agradeço a notícia ao site Pew Sitter)