Today, on the eve of the G8 meeting in Italy, Pope Benedict issued an encyclical letter discussing the economic crisis, specifically noting the problems with greed. He wrote, "Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty."

Benedict suggested, "There is an urgent need of a true world political authority" to manage the global economy—with "God-centered" ethics— and "to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result." He also said there should be "reform of the United Nations, economic institutions and international finance so the idea of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."

The NY Times reports, "In many ways, the document is a somewhat puzzling cross between an anti-globalization tract and a government white paper, another indication that the Vatican does not comfortably fit into traditional political categories of right and left." Reuters points out, "Parts of the encyclical, titled 'Charity in Truth,' seemed bound to upset free marketeers because of its underlying rejection of unbridled capitalism and unregulated market forces, which he said had led to 'thoroughly destructive' abuse of the system." Benedict also suggests—gasp—a redistribution of wealth, "The processes of globalization, suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a worldwide scale. If badly directed, however, they can lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and even trigger a global crisis."

Pope Benedict will meet President Obama at the end of the G8 summit.