Economics World Food Production and the Form of Penance

Were economic as well as spiritual motives at work in the process of institutional transformation of the Roman Catholic Church between the late 1950s and mid-1960s? We believe that the economic motive of the Church—that of wealth maximization—was conditioned by patterns of world food production and that economic facts might help explain the Church's decision to alter the rules respecting penance. Regional and

Table 4.1

Distribution of actual membership in the College of Cardinals by world region and political bloc, 1951, 1965, and 1966

Table 4.1

Distribution of actual membership in the College of Cardinals by world region and political bloc, 1951, 1965, and 1966

1951

1965

1966

Regional distribution

North America

Canada

1

2

3

United States

4

5

5

South America, Central America (including Mexico)

7

13

14

Europe (excluding Italy)

15

21

27

Italy

19

26

29

Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

3

3

7

Africa

O

1

4

Mid-East

1

1

4

East

1

4

5

Australia

1

1

1

TOTALS

52

77

99

Political distribution

Western Bloc

44

55

65

Soviet and Eastern Bloc

3

3

7

Third World

9

19

27

TOTALS

52

77

99

Sources: Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1951 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1951), 29-63; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1965 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1965), 38-67; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1966 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1966), 3889.

Sources: Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1951 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1951), 29-63; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1965 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1965), 38-67; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1966 (Citta del Vaticano: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1966), 3889.

country-by-country economic interests in meat and fish are particularly relevant in this regard. As table 4.2 shows, the decision reached by Paul VI in Poenitemini is perfectly compatible with world fish and beef production patterns between 1951 and 1966, the year of the decree. In restructuring the College of Cardinals in such a way as to enhance the representation of North America, South America, and Africa at the proportional expense of European representation, Paul in effect reduced the power of Europe. The case for economic interests is even stronger when the data is refined to a country-by-country level. Consider tables 4.3 and 4.4, which list the major meat and fish producers for the twenty countries in which meat or fish production is greatest relative to the country's

Table 4.2

Number of newly appointed cardinals, and beef and fish production (millions of metric tons) by continent, 1951-1966

Table 4.2

Number of newly appointed cardinals, and beef and fish production (millions of metric tons) by continent, 1951-1966

Number of new cardinals*

Fish production

Beef production

Fish/beef

North America

4

61.7

1,246

0.049

South America

7

66.8

656

0.102

(including Central

America and Mexico)

Europe

45

126.3

892

0.142

Africa

4

31.4

211

0.016

Asia

6

230.7

262

0.878

Sources: Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1965: 38-67; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1966: 38-89; Production Yearbook, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, various issues; and Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, various issues. *New cardinalates and replacements (1958-1965) created by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, who were voting members of the college in 1965-1966.

Sources: Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1965: 38-67; Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 1966: 38-89; Production Yearbook, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, various issues; and Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, various issues. *New cardinalates and replacements (1958-1965) created by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, who were voting members of the college in 1965-1966.

gross national product (GNP). The number of new (and replacement) cardinals appointed between 1958 and 1966 are also given for each of the countries. While some anomalies exist, these tables provide striking evidence of a tilt in the College of Cardinals (at this period) toward meat producing and relatively Catholic nations and away from fish producing and relatively non-Catholic nations. It is natural to argue that the Pope would seek to provide once-and-for-all rents for producers in Catholic rather than non-Catholic nations, leading to permanent redistribution of wealth from non-Catholic nations to Catholic nations. In aggregate, the leading meat-producing nations received twice the number of appointments (twenty-four) than the fish-producing nations received (twelve).

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