The Church and the Social Question

The Church and the Social Question

The Church and the Social Question

The Church and the Social Question

Excerpt

Throughout the coming two decades, Catholic social thought on economic questions is bound to receive increasing media exposure. First, in 1985 the Catholic bishops of the United States will issue a pastoral letter on the U.S. economy. Second, the Vatican Commission on Justice and Peace and the pope himself are likely to speak out increasingly on the economic necessities of the less-developed countries, in which a majority of the world's Catholics now live. Third, the very success of the relatively few democratic capitalist political economies around the world makes it possible to turn to them, in their success, for much-needed assistance of every kind. It is part of a Jewish-Christian and humanistic culture to regard all human beings as brothers and sisters and in their necessities to come to their assistance as best one can.

Two centuries ago, confronted by the almost universal poverty of nations, Adam Smith tried to imagine a world in which the sustained creation of wealth to alleviate human misery might be achieved. He imagined a world of universal development, of international interdependence, of relative concord and reliable law, within which poverty, ignorance, ill-health, and misery would no longer find excuse.

For various reasons, this vast creative effort on the part of a new art and science called political economy was mixed with certain fairly broad philosophical and moral principles. In several of its varieties on the European continent, particularly in France, Germany, and Italy, the new "liberal" world view seemed to the popes to be antireligious and, often enough, anti-Catholic. It was certainly a break not only with the ancien régime but also with the village- and guild-oriented world view of medieval Catholic cultures. To abbreviate a long tale, the popes often found themselves in bitter opposition to the Continental liberals and, at least by analogy, with what they understood of Anglo-American liberalism.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.