Bertone slams IMF and World Bank "usury"

In a hard-hitting interview with an Italian magazine, the Holy See's incoming secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has described World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans to developing countries as "usury."

The Cardinal has also condemned the "useless massacres" in Lebanon and has described Vatican warnings on Iraq as "prophetic."

While some commentators were expecting the new secretary of state to adopt what they call a more "balanced" line on the Middle East, less critical of Israel, it has not stopped Cardinal Bertone from telling Italian journal, 30 Giorni that he had been following the fighting in Lebanon and was praying every day that the country be spared further "useless massacres."

Catholic News Service reports that he expressed support for the strongly worded appeals of Pope Benedict and the outgoing secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, both of whom have called for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon.

Cardinal Bertone, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, made the comments in a lengthy interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni (30 Days), published on 9 August.

While saying that the current situation in Iraq demonstrates that the Vatican's warnings against the war were "prophetic," he nevertheless warned against a precipitous pullout of Western forces from Iraq because it would be leave local Iraqis exposed to dangers.

In the same interview, Cardinal Bertone also commented that he considered international lending by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and by richer countries a form of usury that "should be declared illegal."

He said loans become usury when they violate the right to life and other basic human rights.

"Some technocrats, especially those of multinationals, the World Bank and the (International) Monetary Fund, have imposed unacceptable conditions on the poor populations, like forced sterilization and obligatory closing of Catholic schools," he said.

He said the church's social teaching calls for a "popular democratic capitalism" that benefits the greatest number of people and favors economic creativity and healthy competition.

Cardinal Bertone also said that as archbishop of Genoa he had not opposed the construction of a mosque in the city because he believes it is important to protect the human dignity of Muslim believers but he also called for "a certain reciprocity" to be shown to Christian minorities in Muslim countries.

Next secretary of state says Vatican warnings on Iraq were prophetic (Catholic News Agency, 9/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Secretariat of State, Holy See
World Bank
International Monetary Fund

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10 Aug 2006