Market Idolatry

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godisgreat.jpgMarket is great
Market is good
Let us thank Market
For our food.
By Its Invisible Hand
We all are fed,
Give us, Supply and Demand,
Our Daily Bread.


The new statement on financial reform from the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace contains a pretty good overview of the current world economic crisis–but other such overviews are readily available. Its advocacy of what Pope John XXIII called “a true world political authority” to deal with the problem long term will be regarded by even the most sympathetic as pie-in-the-sky.

No, the Vatican’s strong suit is religion, which is why I am delighted to be able to agree with George Weigel in his pronunciamento: “As for the document itself, no morally alert person objects to bringing
discussions of global finance within the ambit of moral reasoning; that
is an entirely worthy intention.”

Within that ambit, the Council associates itself with Pope John Paul II’s concern that, in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, the victors would be led to violate the Big Commandment to “have no other gods before me.”

In 1991, after the failure of Marxist communism, Blessed John Paul II had already warned of the risk of an “idolatry of the market, an idolatry which ignores the existence of goods which by their nature are not and cannot be mere commodities.” Today his warning needs to be heeded without delay and a road must be taken that is in greater harmony with the dignity and transcendent vocation of the person and the human family.

That’s the message that the Weigels and the Michael Novaks–to say nothing of non-Catholic conservatives–should take to heart. Of course, like other idolators, the market devotees really believe that they’re right; they do not accept the Vatican’s contention that the first cause of the economic crisis is “an economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls.” Believers in a thing unseen, they are impervious to arguments and evidence to the contrary.