WORLD DAY OF PEACE ~ New Year's Day 2010
The Vatican website carries the Holy Father's Message for the World Day of Peace on New Year's Day 2010; and on my first reading of it, I find a surprising amount which resonates with the thinking of certain English Dominicans over the last hundred years - perhaps particularly fr Vincent McNabb, who wrote and spoke forcefully on many of the topics included in the Message.
fr Vincent, of course, was an exponent of Distributism; the 'third-way' economic philosophy that was encouraged by Hillaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton, which expounded the principle that the ownership of the means of production should be distributed as widely as possible amongst the general populace (as opposed to Socialism, which would have it all owned by the State, and Capitalism, which would have it all owned by a small number). The philosophy also involved the other principle of Subsidiarity - a concept which was at least partly introduced by HH Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, and further developed by HH Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno.
fr Vincent would certainly have echoed the Holy Father's observation that 'The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole', and his view of 'big business' would have found unwelcome confirmation in the comment that 'It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to . . . the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation'; but I think that what he would have liked best is the clear statements that 'Suitable strategies for rural development centred on small farmers and their families should be explored', and 'In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests', as vindicating the principles which he propounded for so long.
At the same time we must not forget that fr Timothy Radcliffe OP has also commented frequently in the last twenty years or so on the dangers of globalisation, and the evils of such things as attempts to patent the genome, and to control agriculture by controlling seed stocks; and I am sure that he will echo the Message's clarion call for fairness and respect for humanity in the acts of mankind - I shall certainly look forward with interest to any comments he makes.
As usual, the Holy Father is informed, informative, and incisive : the question now must be 'who will listen' ?