VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Vatican's goal in engaging secular groups on matters of human development is not provoking conversion or promoting Catholicism but advancing “common humanity,” a top cardinal is categorically declaring.
In a revealing interview with Vaticanist Edward Pentin, Cdl. Peter Appiah Turkson, prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, confirms that “the Catholic faith as the only authentic means of human salvation” has not been talked about “in any group because we recognize that it's a multifaith group.”
“The objective is not to provoke conversion on the point of everybody, to bring anybody to their faith. If anything, it's just about the point of our common humanity, as it were, and how we can engage the different institutions to promote that,” Turkson insists.
The Ghanaian cardinal, regarded as papabile (eligible to be next pope) by Pentin in his book The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates, argues that his department witnesses to Christ by presenting the Church's social teaching and by “expressing Christ incarnate.”
The Vatican also collaborates with secular bodies like the Council for Inclusive Capitalism (CIC) to fulfill the mandate of dialogue with society “with all of its problems and issues” expressed at Vatican II in the document Gaudium et Spes, Turkson reasons.
A 'Reset' for Christ?
Pentin's incisive interview, published Wednesday, repeatedly and pointedly interrogates the cardinal on the Church's primary mission of “preaching the gospel with Christ at the center” as “central to any plan to promote integral human development.”
The journalist doggedly returns to the question of what Turkson's dicastery is doing to ensure that “the Catholic faith is fully promoted and defended within the initiatives” of the Vatican's meetings at Davos, the CIC, United Nations and the World Economic Forum (WEF) — a body pushing the agenda of the “Great Reset.”
There are many people talking about resetting the future, but the one thing common to all is “that they see the present system as flawed” — a feature particularly exposed by the pandemic, Turkson observes.
Church Militant obtained a portion of the conversation with the cardinal not included in the published interview, where Pentin asks Turkson:
By not talking about Christ, and putting Him clearly at the center, and instead talking generically about God and faith, do you think one can easily drift into backing a pseudo-religion, what some call “climate religion,” or a pantheistic-environmentalist religion which some say this Great Reset initiative proposes?
A dicastery of the Vatican cannot be promoting pantheism. For example, in our discourse on ecology, when we described the earth as our common home, this was taken to be pantheistic. But that's far from the case because when we made reference to St. Francis of Assisi, who is the inspiration for all this ecological teaching of Pope Francis, St. Francis invited us to consider that we belong to a universal brotherhood because all of us have the vocation to praise God together.
“Creation cannot be a deity, because deity cannot praise God,” Turkson remarked, stressing that while “Davos is talking about resetting the future, but without Pope Francis and without his religion, Pope Francis is talking about resetting the future rooted in the Scriptures, rooted in the grace of God, [and] rooted in Christ.”
The cardinal also rejects the accusation of utopianism leveled at Pope Francis and the charge that the Vatican's new allies are promoting “communism under a different name” by calling it the “Great Reset.”
“I know for some [the pope's vision is] a little bit socialistic or whatever, but if we go back to the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles and how they lived, or even look at the book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 5) and the jubilee celebration, which said there would be no poor in your midst, this has been the biblical vision from the beginning,” Turkson argues.
Turkson does not quote Deuteronomy 15, which states: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land” — a text quoted by Jesus in the narrative of a woman anointing him with very expensive perfume made of pure nard (Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, John 12:8).
When Pentin presses Turkson to respond to the criticism of initiatives “placing a lot of power in a very small group of people, who are then forcing a certain worldview on others,” Turkson seems to dismiss the charge as a conspiracy theory — the sort of which used to be attributed to the “Illuminati.”
To the question of the abolition of private property discussed as one of the themes of the “Great Reset,” Turkson vaguely references St. Ambrose and St. John Chrysostom, who say “rich people have wealth so they can serve the poor ones and so the poor will have a way of appreciating them for their help.”
The cardinal also speaks of how the inventions of single inventors like Edison and Einstein have become “common property” and “universal property.”
Rejecting “trickle-down” economics, the cardinal calls for “inclusive capitalism,” which he describes as people who have wealth deciding to squeeze in more tightly at the table when a new arrival who does not have wealth enters.
“So that's what we should be aiming at, sitting tightly to make room for other people,” Turkson affirms.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed the cardinal president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP).
But in 2017, Pope Francis dissolved the PCJP and made Turkson the prefect of the new “super dicastery” for Promoting Integral Human Development.
In 2020, Pope Francis appointed Turkson coordinator of a five-group Vatican task force to respond to the socioeconomic fallout from the coronavirus.