Pope Francis and leading Vatican officials have held a meeting with many members of the world’s global financial elite on how to reshape the world after the Covid pandemic. Finance ministers of seven countries joined the gathering, on Friday last week in the Vatican’s Casino Pio IV.
Called “Dreaming of a Better Restart”, the meeting was arranged and hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
In their “Concept note” the pontifical academies stated: “The current crisis and global state of confusion is none other than the end of the globalism of selfishness, exclusion and the throwaway culture. Inequality and hunger are increasing, posing major ethical, economic and political challenges to which both policy makers and civil society must react.
“Pope Francis, like many other leaders, has stressed that this situation demands a new beginning of solidarity and fraternity in the global economic and political configuration … Extensive changes in international policy and financial architecture are required to address inequality, and comprehensive plans to combat climate change and the transformation of the food system.”
The conference was not advertised by the pontifical academies and was closed to the press, but a programme booklet accessible online quoted a passage from the Pope’s October 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti which included the line: “Others drink from other sources. For us the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The Pope’s Argentinian compatriot and chancellor of the pontifical academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, delivered opening remarks along with President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Joachim von Braun, President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Stefano Zamagni and Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, Bishop Paul R Gallagher.
The conference then divided into two panels, Panel I on “Financial and Tax Solidarity” and Panel 2 on “Integral Ecological Sustainability”. Members of the US Biden Administration gave prominent speeches for each panel – Secretary of the US Treasury Janet Yellen made an online contribution to Panel 1 before Chair and Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, gave the keynote speech on site.
Prominent population control advocate and supporter of Chinese Communist Party president Xi Jinping, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, led the group discussion that followed. Sachs has extolled Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative, that aims to extend CCP influence across Asia to Europe, as “one of the most important economic development initiatives in the history of contemporary economics”. He is a frequent collaborator with Bishop Sorondo, who in a February 2018 interview said, “right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese”.
The programme note for Panel 1 pointed out that, in the context of debt restructuring, that “the G20 recently committed to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) …. a process [that] must involve the private sector.”
The Panel 2 group on “integral ecological sustainability” was addressed remotely by Chair of the African Union and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, before US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, gave the on-site keynote speech.
Rockefeller Foundation president Raj Shah was one of the leaders of the general discussion that followed. Along with its humanitarian projects, the Foundation has for years funded worldwide contraception programmes and abortion providers. Shah worked for USAID during the presidency of Barack Obama, and before that served in a range of leadership roles in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The conference programme gave a broad indication of the issues discussed in Panel 2: “In recent years, science has warned of the impacts of climate change and emphasised the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius … Over the last few years we have seen the publication of national energy and food transformation strategies … that must be integrated … to achieve a harmonious [net-zero] transition.”
On the following day, 15 May, Kerry had a one-on-one meeting with Pope Francis. No details were released but it was subsequently revealed that the Pope would attend COP26 in Glasgow in November. The meeting came amidst heightened conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza that is sponsored by Iran. Kerry, as one of the main architects of the Iran nuclear deal of 2015, that is re-emerging under the Biden administration, has established communication channels with Tehran.