Pope John Paul II and Globalization

What were the late Pope John Paul II’s thoughts on the global economy?

April 5, 2005

What were the late Pope John Paul II's thoughts on the global economy?

The late Pope John Paul II was an influential and outspoken world leader, offering his guidance on many issues — ranging from Communism and birth control to the War in Iraq and poverty. As our Read My Lips feature reveals, even his fiercest critics have to admit that he was a first-rate advocate of a truly balanced approach toward managing the global economy.

Was the pope for or against globalization?

“Globalization seems clearly ‘ambivalent.’ It can be something good for man and society, but could also prove harmful — with serious consequences.”
(May 2000)

What did he see as one of the main consequences of globalization?

“The independence of states can no longer be understood apart from the concept of interdependence. All states are interconnected — both for better and for worse.”
(January 2003)

What was the pontiff’s view on the Iraq War?

“War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions.”
(January 2003)

In the post-9/11 world, what concerned the pope about potential future conflicts?

“May God grant that we be free from the peril of a tragic clash between cultures and religions.”
(April 2003)

What about America’s role in the world?

“Radical changes in world politics leave America with a heightened responsibility to be — for the world — an example of a genuinely free, democratic, just and humane society.”
(January 1999)

But was the pope also critical of the advice the United States gave to many poor countries during the 1990s?

“America’s ‘neoliberalism’ is a system based on a purely economic conception of man — with profit and the law of the markets as its only parameters.”
(January 1999)

What did the pope emphasize instead?

“The economy, even if globalized, must always be integrated into the overall fabric of social relations, of which it forms an important, but not exclusive, component.”
(May 2000)

Does that mean that the pope was anti-capitalist?

“On the level of individual nations and international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.”
(August 1991)

Was the Catholic Church in the forefront of reducing poor countries’ debt burden?

“Politics and economics must collaborate in this area of globalization to define short-, medium- and long-term projects whose goal will be the cancellation, or at least reduction, of the public debt of the world’s poor countries.”
(May 2000)

How did the pope think the world’s leaders should work toward that common goal?

“It is necessary to globalize solidarity, too.”
(May 2000)

How did the pope sum up the relentless violence in the Middle East?

“It seems that war has been declared on peace.”
(April 2002)

And finally, did the pope have further misgivings about the process of globalization?

“New realities which are forcefully affecting the productive process — such as globalization of finance, of the economy, of commerce and of work — should never be allowed to violate the dignity and centrality of the human person or the democracy of peoples.”
(February 2000)