The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching

A terrific little piece by Dale Ahlquist, full of common sense that baffles sectarians in the Land Where There are Only Two Sides to Every Question:

The old economic models no longer work. In order to have a just society we need to act with principles other than economic profit. This is a theme repeated by Chesterton throughout his writings. It is also a theme repeated in the writings of a small group of men who dealt with the subject before, during, and after the time that Chesterton wrote about it. This group has consisted entirely of Popes. The writings were the encyclicals on Catholic Social Teaching. The latest installment is Caritas in Veritate (“Love in Truth”) from Pope Benedict XVI.

Mammon, the one real alternative to God, has always had a robust following, but never more so than in the modern world, where, as the new encyclical points out, the amount of overall wealth has increased but so has the disparity between the rich and the poor.

The Pope says, “Every economic decision has a moral consequence.” He echoes the phrase, “distributive justice,” which was used by his predecessors and gave rise to the social philosophy of Distributism, which was espoused by Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Fr. Vincent McNabb, and others. And like these other great thinkers and great men of principle, Benedict does not confine his treatment of social issues to mere economics. He touches upon technology, ecology, and education−the whole human person. He affirms the Church’s teaching on life, which means not only the right to be born, but truly the right to live, to enjoy the wonders of creation, to eat and breathe, to work and play and worship.

The reaction to the latest encyclical? Parts of it were welcomed by some but winced at by others – and vice versa. Political agendas always come up narrower than the ministry of the universal Church.

People of all faiths, in spite of their doctrinal differences, have generally been encouraged when the Catholic Church takes a stand for religious belief. In a skeptical and materialistic age, the social encyclicals seem to garner the widest attention because everyone is interested in seeing how the Church will adjust to the trends of the modern world. However, it is arguable that there has never been a real surprise in any papal encyclical. The Pope simply affirms the truths the Church has always affirmed. The encyclicals are needed only because the world changes, not because the truth changes. The world needs to be refreshed by the truth. For instance, in 1968, the only surprise of Humane Vitae was that the Church was not going to give into the world. Lust is still wrong. Now, in 2009, the only surprise of Caritas in Veritate was that the Church was not going to give into the world. Greed is still wrong.

Read the whole thing. Chesterton (and Ahlquist) remain sane in a world of crazy Marxists and Randians.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X