Pope to condemn tax avoidance and evasion

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The Times has reported that:

Pope Benedict XVI is working on a doctrinal pronouncement that will condemn tax evasion as "socially unjust", according to Vatican sources.

In his second encyclical - the most authoritative statement a pope can issue - the pontiff will denounce the use of "tax havens" and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole.

It will focus on humanity's social and economic problems in an era of globalisation. Pope Benedict intends to argue for a world trade and economic system "regulated in such a way as to avoid further injustice and discrimination", Ignazio Ingrao, a Vatican watcher, said yesterday.

The encyclical, drafted during his recent holiday in the mountains of northern Italy, takes its cue from Pope Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), issued 40 years ago. In it the pontiff focused on "those peoples who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance and are looking for a wider share in the benefits of civilisation". He called on the West to promote an equitable world economic system based on social justice rather than profit.

I do not think that because the Pope says something it has to be right. But few can deny the power or importance of the tradition of Catholic social teaching, especially on issues such as this (where the Catholic Church is ahead of all others). This news is, therefore, very welcome and is indicative the changing environment worldwide on this issue.