Monday, August 13, 2007

Populorum Progressio, Part Deux

It hasn't been the best-kept secret that not a few of the veterans who came up through the ranks in the pontificate of Paul VI are still having a... um... bit of a hard time adjusting to the reality of Peter's chair being occupied by a onetime CDF head.

Roman turfwar being what it is, the emotions are understandable... the manifestations, to put it nicely, bizarre.

Well, imagine the surprise (if not something more) on word that B16's next encyclical -- reportedly drafted during his sojourn in the Dolomites -- will be a modern reflection on one of Papa Montini's landmark texts: his 1967 treatise on "the development of peoples" Populorum Progressio.
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.

This week the Italian centre-left Government of Romano Prodi began a concerted crackdown on tax evaders, saying that it would target individuals with second homes and other signs of “conspicuous wealth”. If the black economy is included, unpaid taxes amount to 27 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product.

Mr Prodi, a devout Catholic, urged church leaders to speak out on tax evasion, telling the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana that a third of Italians heavily evaded taxes, which were needed to plug Italy’s huge budget deficit. “Why, when I go to Mass, is this issue almost never touched upon in homilies?” Mr Prodi asked, adding: “If memory serves, St Paul exhorted the faithful to obey authority.”
Just in time for the '08 campaigns, you say?

Stay tuned.