The Trouble with Catholic Social Teaching…

is a fine little essay by Dale Ahlquist that I periodically return to, particularly when “faithful conservative Catholics” turn up in comboxes to explain to the Pope what does and doesn’t pertain to faith and morals.

According to an old saying that I am just now making up, “Catholic Social Teaching constantly interferes with what moderns keep in their pants and worship as their highest good.  No, not that: their wallets.”

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  • Jason C.

    “Catholic Social Teaching constantly interferes with what moderns keep in their pants and worship as their highest good. No, not that: their wallets.”

    Reminds me of another saying I heard: “You know the best way to keep from getting sexually-transmitted disease? It’s a little circle, and you slide it over something long and skinny–know what it is? No, not that, dummy: a wedding ring.”

  • tedseeber

    Yep, that about cuts it.

    I’m working on a new theory now that I’ve read this screed that Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute were once so proud of, but now are trying to cover up:

    My new theory is that the entire modernist sexuality, from abortion to homosexuality to fraudulent sterilization, is really just a plot by the elite rich to reduce the population of the poor in order to grab a bigger slice of the pie for themselves; and THAT is why these sexual issues that we oppose so strongly in the pro-life movement, are indeed a part of Catholic Social Teaching.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      Interesting hypothesis. I’m not sure, though. The rich like cheap labor. Fewer Morlocks mean you have to pay them better.

      I have an alternative theory: people like to feed their appetites, and they don’t like suffering consequences. Mine is far more parsimonious, less tin-foil-hatty, and applies throughout human history, not just to the moderns.

      • tedseeber

        With the market now global, Labor is in severe surplus. There are always more morlocks.

        • Actually, we’re quickly running through our supply of extra morlocks in a good way (speaking as one morlock to another). China’s wages are on the rise and the Boston Consulting Group is seeing productivity corrected salary equalization between the US and the PRC in 2015, mostly because of their continued rise in salary.

          • tedseeber

            At which point we’ll just move to another set of morlocks. Besides, China’s morlock status is entirely due to the fact that, thanks to eliminating female children, getting married now costs 10 year’s salary.

            • Ok, this is just completely ahistorical. Nixon goes to China in 1972, Dengism became a major policy guide in 1978, coincidentally the same year that the one child policy was introduced. The first time that bride prices would have been affected would have been 20 years later (average age of marriage in China is 22 for women). I assure you that outsourcing to China did not start out of the blue in 1998 due entirely to the expense of getting married. It had been going like gangbusters many years prior.

              • tedseeber

                Oh, I agree we’ve been stupidly running trade deficits- and at a loss- for 4 decades now. I’m saying their current morlock status has little to do with wages and very much to do with an unbalanced sex ratio.

                When we’re done using up China, we’ll just shutter the factories there and move them to Africa.

                • First of all, they’re already going to Africa at the same time they’re still opening in China. Second of all, the population of Africa can’t replace the population of China. It’s too small by a huge number.

                  But what do you agree with, precisely, that your previous comment was ahistorical and inaccurate?

      • tedseeber

        Also, while your hypothesis also works, it fails to explain the huge leap from a rare couple committing infanticide before Christendom, to the post-christian organized and legal abortion of millions every year.

        Though an alternate piece of data, for both, *might* be infant survival rate.

    • Dan F.

      I’m not sure that the link you posted was to the correct screed – I got ”
      Water Management Innovations in England”

      • ivan_the_mad

        It’s written in code. Clearly, you did not drink enough Ovaltine to obtain the necessary decoder ring.

      • tedseeber

        Darn, should have used the “stable url”:

    • Marthe Lépine

      But do not forget that at the beginning of it all, there is a fallen angel who despises God’s children and is trying everything in his power to destroy them one way or the other. This is not just a theory. Our new Pope Francis is not afraid to mention his name, too…

      • tedseeber

        I try not to blame the devil when mere original sin will do.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    I have no problem whatsoever with Catholic Social Teaching. I have a problem with those who take the words of the Pope and the teaching of the Church as advocating something other than Distributism. I particularly have a problem with those who conflate criticisms of capitalism with endorsement of socialism, those who think Dorothy Day was a socialist, those who think that Catholic Social Teaching necessarily dictates the means by which economic justice is achieved, those who favor State control over voluntary association, those who – in the name of social justice – build the State at the expense of the family, and those who conflate “Capitalism” as a Marx-named, modernist invention with the natural ordering that results from the free choices of free people.

    • Dan C

      Dorothy Day was an anarcho-communist.

      The last two popes have no problem with statist intervention in economics and are extremely clear on this matter. In fact, these two popes make me look like a moderate in terms of intervention.

    • tedseeber

      I’ll agree with that, if by Distributism you mean the universal distribution of private productive property. Unfortunately, I need to ask, as there are several libertarians who seem to have glommed onto “subsidiarity” as “whatever the market wants to do is fine by me”

  • Shane

    Reminds me of George Weigel’s critique of Caritas in Veritate, where the only parts that were “doctrine” were those that explicitly agreed with Weigel’s economic views.

    One good thing I see in the way the Church is moving is that people are really souring on the idea that one can, to the fullest extant, baptize American values as “Catholic”. Hopefully that will carry over into the economic realm.

    • Imp the Vladaler

      I wonder if it’s more precise to say that what we consider “American values” today are less compatible with the Church than the “American values” of a few decades ago.

      There’s something to be said for what could be called the American values of yesteryear – some of them, at least. We were better to our unborn children but worse to our darker-hued brothers. We didn’t torture in war but we bombed less discriminantly.

      • Shane

        My intent wasn’t to critique American values. I happen to like a lot of them. But I do feel that in the past, the yearning for Catholics to be accepted as fully American translated itself into the unconscious conflation of American and Catholic identities, especially when it comes to political philosophy (notice how even the most conservative Catholics cringe at the idea of the Social Reign of Christ the King).

        Still, I’ll be glad when we get over rabidly defending laissez faire capitalism, liberal democracy, and state-sanctioned religious indifferentism as almost dogmatic ideals.

      • Dan C

        We approved, encoraged, or endorsed torture in the Dirty Wars. We have participated in immoral total war since the civil war. We were murdering Native Americans since the arrival of Europeans. Pretense that once America was Eden of Paradise is from some mythology of our origins.

      • tedseeber
        • Shane

          I’ve gotten ripped to shreds for saying that if the Church is holding a “Fortnight for Freedom” to defend her doctrines in the public square, we have already lost, and lost very badly.

          • tedseeber

            We spent too much time giving in to Americanism to claim the defense of Americanism when Americanism attacks us.