The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life

The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life

The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life

The True Wealth of Nations: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Life

Synopsis

The True Wealth of Nations arises from the conviction that implementing a morally adequate vision of the economy will generate sustainable prosperity for all. It sets forth the beginnings of an architecture of analysis for relating economic life and Christian faith-intellectually and experientially-and helps social scientists, theologians, and all persons of faith to appreciate the true wealth of any nation.

Excerpt

The detailed demands of a modern economy and the transcendental concerns of people of faith can no longer be regarded as separate realities. Economic development presents ethical challenges that must be addressed. But further than that, religious faith asks: what is the ultimate purpose of life and how does economic activity best serve that purpose? What can faith say to economics, about the nature of creation, about the value of work, about the purposes of prosperity and the creation of wealth? To say any of those things intelligibly, those speaking for faith must have an understanding of the world of economics and be willing to engage in profound dialogue with the relevant disciplines.

For a long time thinkers in the mainstream Christian traditions have viewed economic activity, especially that left to private initiative, with suspicion or even antagonism. Since the Industrial Revolution, the economic system known as capitalism has been blamed for the poverty of the poor and for injustices committed toward them. It was not seen by most Christian theologians as an effective means for dealing with poverty.

A significant shift in that approach was signaled within the Catholic tradition by several encyclicals of the late Pope John Paul ii, notably Centesimus Annus published in 1991. It argued that the creation of wealth in a market-driven economic system could, in the right conditions, promote the common good. It offered general criteria drawn from Catholic social thought for judging whether . . .

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