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The Pope Preaches to the G8 Leaders

The day before the G8 summit, Pope Francis sent British Prime Minister David Cameron a letter, urging him to convey his instructions to the other participants.

Francis preached to the world leaders that “The present global crisis shows that ethics [should be] an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.”

Several days earlier, we learned that the pope chose a manager at McKinsey & Company “to design that reform” of the Vatican curia (bureaucracy) which everyone expects will be the first priority of this papacy.  

McKinsey & Company is a privately held American global management consulting firm. According to Wikipedia, “McKinsey is one of the market-leading ‘Big Three’ management consulting services to the Fortune 500 set, along with Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group.”

Criticisms leveled against the firm include:

In February 2011, McKinsey surveyed 1,300 US private-sector employers on their expected response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 30 percent of respondents said they anticipated they would probably or definitely stop offering employer sponsored health coverage after the ACA went into effect in 2014. These results, published in June 2011 in the McKinsey e-Quarterly, became “a useful tool for critics of the ACA and a deep annoyance for defenders of the law.” Some supporters of the Affordable Care Act criticized the survey’s methodology, arguing it used slanted questions, cherry-picked information and had uninformed recipients.

In 2010 Rainforest Foundation UK released a report claiming recommendations McKinsey had given to developing countries on how to reduce deforestation were of poor quality. The NGO argued the company’s work has serious methodological flaws and as a result systematically underestimates the destructive impacts of industrial agriculture while exaggerating those of subsistence farming. Adding to this, a Greenpeace study claimed McKinsey’s advice failed to address some of the main drivers of deforestation such as logging and mining, and that the company’s proposals would actually reward those industries.

Enron was headed by McKinsey alumni and was one of the firm’s biggest clients before its collapse.

Several civil suits have been filed against home insurance and vehicle insurance companies after the insurers were advised by McKinsey, and allegedly paid the insured parties significantly less than the actual value of the damage. McKinsey was cited in a February 2007 CNN article with developing controversial car insurance practices used by State Farm and Allstate in the mid-1990s to avoid paying claims involving soft tissue injury.

Recently, McKinsey worked for the Minneapolis Public Schools, where the firm recommended that the district cut “high costs” such as teacher health care, and recommended converting the 25 percent of schools that scored the lowest on standardized tests to privatized charter-school status.

McKinsey senior executives Rajat Gupta and Anil Kumar were among others convicted in an ongoing government investigation into insider trading for sharing inside information with Galleon Group hedge fund owner Raj Rajaratnam.

In selecting McKenzie, the pope relied on his advisers who apparently didn’t receive the same lecture given to the G8 leaders.

In fact, the letter is full of sermonizing ignored by the Catholic Church.    

Francis preached that “one of the central themes on the [G8] agenda” should be “the protection of women and children from sexual violence.”

Francis has done nothing to move his Church to increase its protection of children from sexual violence. His record as an Argentine prelate also left much to be desired.

On Tuesday, Michael D’Antonio posted this at Huffington Post:

This week in Geneva, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child is hearing closed-door testimony about official Catholicism’s compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of almost 200 signatories to the convention, the Holy See (the formal name of the Vatican state) is fifteen years late in delivering a report describing whether it has acted to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence” as the convention requires….

The decades-long international scandal of sexual abuse and cover-ups by higher church authorities is so familiar that by now it requires little recounting….

In signing on to the convention on the rights of the child, the Holy See exercised its prerogative as a nation state. In pursuing the truth about the Vatican’s response to child abuse committed by priests, the United Nations has the opportunity to hold the Holy See accountable to the standards accepted by all the signatories.

When Poland became the 26th country to sign the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing violence against women in December 2012, the Catholic bishops objected that this would “Promote non-stereotypical gender roles such as homosexuality and transsexualism.”

The U.S. Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was “supported by over 50 national religious organizations, more than 200 national organizations, and 500 state and local organizations, including victim service providers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and survivors themselves.” Yet on March 6, 2013, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced they opposed the legislation. Reading between the lines, they objected because the bill “would force them to provide services to lesbians or the transgendered…or to provide morning-after medication and the full range of legal medical options to victims of human trafficking!”

During the UN Commission on the Status of Women summit on eliminating violence against women and girls which ended March 15, 2013, the Vatican worked in alliance with Iran, Syria and Russia to “change wording in the text rolling-back past agreements and to prevent advances on key issues such as supporting women and girls who face violence in relationships other than marriage, women’s right to control their sexual and reproductive health and access to abortion for survivors of rape.”

In one laugh-out-loud moralizing by the head of the Catholic Church, the pontiff told Cameron: “[C]ommitments to deal with tax avoidance and to ensure transparency and responsibility on the part of governments…are actions…which point towards law as the golden thread of development.”

Francis also included his usual lecture: “Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential.”

Yet the leaders assembled, especially those representing the U.S., France and Italy, are painfully aware that any political party or government undertaking such an agenda will be opposed by every means available to the Catholic Church.

As expected, Francis urged the leaders to “exercise solidarity [with] the poorest.”

I would advise anyone waiting for the pope, his bishops or his pastors to begin divesting the Church of its assets and using that money to promote justice for “the poorest” – a poor Church for the poor – to not hold your breath while doing so.  

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