Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

The dangerous Vatican enthusiasm for the WEF

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 31, 2024

At a private audience on January 10, Pope Francis offered his encouragement to a group dedicated to dialogue between Christians and Marxists. That meeting, and the Pope’s remarks to the group, troubled Catholics who still have vivid memories of the Cold War and the worldwide struggle against an aggressive and inhuman Soviet empire—an empire based on Marxist ideology.

But the next week the Pope spoke to another group that seems bent on establishing a worldwide hegemony: the World Economic Forum (WEF). Again his remarks were entirely encouraging. The WEF meeting at Davos, he said, “provides an important opportunity for multi-stakeholder engagement to explore innovative and effective ways to build a better world.”

During the earlier meeting the Pope had mentioned the “great dictatorships” of the 20th century, decrying their treatment of “whose who were most vulnerable.” But in this context he mentioned only Nazism; he did not mention the Stalinist liquidation of the kulaks, or the man-made famine that killed millions in China during Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Speaking to a group interested in Marxism, he did not caution against the historic excesses of Marxist ideology.

Then in his message to the WEF, the Pope did not suggest that the rich and powerful political figures who gathered at Davos should curb their ambitions. On the contrary he spoke of “an evident need for international political action that, through the adoption of coordinated measures, can effectively pursue the goals of global peace and authentic development.” And while the Pope only sent a video message to Davos, Cardinal Peter Turkson was there in person, encouraging the WEF to promote a new international economic order.

Frankly I am surprised that the Pope’s encouraging message to a group of academics, engaged in abstract talks about Marxism and Christianity, drew more protests than his supportive remarks to the WEF, which in 2024 is a much more clear and present danger to the cause of freedom.

Cardinal Turkson, in his talk at Davos, endorsed the WEF drive for “stakeholder capitalism.” That term describes an economic system in which corporations are held responsible to consider not only the interests of their shareholders, but those of anyone who has a stake in the corporate work, including employees and the communities in which the corporations are based. Cardinal Turkson found it “imperative for businesses to contribute to society beyond their own profit maximization.”

At first glance the concept of “stakeholder capitalism” looks simple and attractive: corporations should be good citizens. But who decides how a “good citizen” should act? Who decides which interest groups have a legitimate “stake” in a corporation?

The WEF has answers to those questions: answers that are supplied not by any democratic process but by the discussions among elites at international conferences. The WEF supports efforts to combat climate change, to advocate diversity and inclusion, to promote “enlightened” opinions. Conspicuously missing from the WEF agenda—and, unfortunately, from the interventions by Pope Francis and Cardinal Turkson—was any discussion of the traditional principles of Catholic social teaching. The powerful figures at Davos did not talk about the living wage, or the preservation of intact families, or the dignity of the human person, or education in virtue.

What the WEF needs to hear from the Catholic Church is not a message of support but a challenge. Ironically, at Davos that challenge was issued by Argentina’s President Javie Milei, a critic of the Catholic Church, who denounced the “bloody abortion agenda” and the bid to curb population growth. Milei observed accurately that WEF had fallen under the spell of Marxists who were gaining power “by appropriating the media, culture, universities, and also international organizations.”

The WEF keeps its focus on global issues, but generally ignores the potential costs to local communities—as for example the costs of absorbing migrants. The Davos crowd proclaims its commitment to democracy, but its chairman, Klaus Schwab, is unelected, as are many of its most influential participants. The group claims to speak for the poor, but in practice leans toward the goal of zero population growth, effectively eliminating poverty by eliminating poor people. The WEF inveighs against excessive consumption, but its globe-trotting leaders jet into swanky resorts and dine in style while suggesting restrictive agricultural policies that make food more expensive. The Davos crowd professes its respect for native cultures, yet evidently the traditional Christian culture of its European founders does not count.

Indeed the most memorable religious display at the Davos conference came when a Brazilian shaman, Chieftess Putanny Yawanawá of the Amazonian Yawanawá, performed a pagan ritual to invoke the power of her “spirits” on the work of the conference. She was not bashful about injecting a religious element into the proceedings, nor did the rich and powerful object to her public prayer.

Soon after the Davos meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a media campaign for the ratification of a global treaty to fight pandemics. And a few days later, in a talk to the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis signaled his support, saying: “after the experience of the [Covid] pandemic, we have seen how important it is to provide forms of governance that go beyond those available to individual nations.”

New forms of government, a new economic order: these are the ambitions of the WEF. It is frightening to see the ideas uncritically endorsed by the Vatican.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Feb. 03, 2024 4:57 PM ET USA

    Wow! Clarity! I finally get it! Don't put your trust in "man": but in a group of rich and powerful men who are deceptive, manipulative, and underhanded tricksters. You surely can trust the outcome.

  • Posted by: rfr46 - Feb. 03, 2024 4:34 AM ET USA

    We have the George Soros of the Catholic Church. Bless his heart.

  • Posted by: mbarkey - Feb. 02, 2024 7:47 PM ET USA

    I’m sorry. I believe Pope Francis is doing all he can to build the Church of the AntiChrist. I’ve excused too much. No more. I will pray for his repentance and conversion before he passes.