Catholic Social Teaching

gay waterfountains

Marriage Is Not a Water Fountain

Some proponents of homosexual pseudogamy now assert that argument is no longer necessary. We do not argue with segregationists, they say. We ignore them, we scorn them. They are not worth our time. They are mad or wicked. So too is the courageous Ryan Anderson, who says that marriage by nature requires a man and [...]

Does Francis Really Have a Marxism Problem?

Last November Pope Francis issued his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium  (The Joy of the Gospel) and it immediately met resistance from some conservatives who charged Francis with Marxism. Francis denied the accusations, insisting there was nothing in the exhortation that contradicted the Church’s teaching on social doctrine. The attention brought to Marxism in the Catholic [...]

Pope Leo’s Ideal Was Not State Control

Pope Leo XIII affirms that a well governed State will promote the material and moral prosperity of its citizens, will honor private property and free association, and will protect the poor from abuse or depredation by the rich. How to do these things?  Leo lays down four principles. The first is what I’ll call the [...]

Leo’s Guilds a Far Cry from Today’s Unions

We have seen that Pope Leo XIII defends the right of a workingman to receive wages sufficient to support his family, in a becoming manner, if he but practices the virtues of diligence and frugality in an ordinary way.  We have also seen that the Pope defends the right of laborers to form free associations [...]

Leo XIII Knew Socialism Would Fail Because it was Evil

It is generally held that Catholic Social Teaching begins with Pope Leo XIII’s masterly encyclical, Rerum Novarum (1891).  That, as I’ve tried to show, is a dreadful mistake.  Pope Leo considered it his duty to apply to current concerns the constant teaching of the Church and of the word of God.  Like Thomas Aquinas, the [...]

The State Exists to Serve, Not Usurp, the Family

We are approaching, in this series, Pope Leo XIII’s great encyclical Rerum Novarum, on the condition of the working classes.  I’ve been maintaining that it is impossible to discuss Catholic Social Teaching without specifying what Catholics understand as a society.  I’ve also insisted upon the wise dictum of Saint Thomas, that grace perfects nature, which [...]

Leo XIII: “Without Faith, Liberty Degenerates into License”

The good and wise Pope Leo XIII never condemned an error without commending a truth.  In this series on Catholic Social Teaching, then, I believe I should follow the Holy Father’s example.  It’s easy to inveigh against what Leo condemns; more rewarding, though, to reveal the beauty of what he commends.  In this essay, then, [...]

Healthy Societies Need Successful Marriages

The great error of most economic thinking these days is not that it is too keenly focused on the economy, but that it has all but forgotten it.  A good friend of mine, a wise theologian, has encouraged his students to distinguish between what Aristotle calls chrematistics, the craft of amassing wealth, which Aristotle viewed [...]

Leo XIII: “Taxing the Rich Does Not Help the Poor”

In Quod Apostolici Muneris (1878), Pope Leo XIII deplores those who “under the motley and all but barbarous terms and titles of Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists, are spread abroad throughout the world,” striving in alliance for “the purpose long resolved upon, of uprooting the foundations of civil society at large.”  It may sound odd to [...]

Divorce: A Widely Ignored Self-Inflicted Tragedy

In a recent interview about her latest book, Phyllis Schlafly said that there will be no solution to the problem of expansive out-of-control government without a restoration of the family. She is entirely correct, but I would go a step further: While a lot of cultural forces have severely damaged the family, it will not [...]

Leo XIII Decried the Pernicious Impact of Divorce

In my first installment, I looked at Pope Leo XIII’s early encyclical Inscrutabili (1878), on the evils affecting modern society, wherein the Pope decried the state’s displacement of the Church’s institutions established for charitable work and the education of youth.  I kept in reserve Leo’s severe condemnation of new laws regarding marriage. The issue is [...]

Catholic Social Teaching: It’s Time to End the Misrepresentations

Imagine someone appealing to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, to justify the activities of gangs in Los Angeles. Why not?  Lord Baden-Powell wanted boys to do risky things, and what’s more dangerous than running guns or smuggling cocaine or fighting another gang in a shooting spree?  He enjoined upon the Scouts a stern [...]

Parents vs. the State

One of the most malignant features of modernity since the French Revolution has been the attempt by the State—left or right, fascist, nationalist, socialist, or communist—to take over control of children’s education from parents and local agencies—such as churches and municipalities—and direct that education in the interest of grandiose, intellectually neat, or more efficient plans [...]

Public Witness and Catholic Citizenship

Public witness on issues of public concern is natural for Catholics because we have a commitment to the common good and to the dignity of each human person. Those two pillars—the common good and the dignity of every human person—come right out of Scripture. They underpin all of Catholic social thought. That includes politics. Politics [...]

Toward a New Political Paradigm: A Call for Catholics to Reform the Republican Party

The late European scholar Dr. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said that politics in Western countries typically features a “Santa Claus party” and a “belt-tightening party.” We are in the midst of an American political campaign where we are witnessing just that. The Democrats think that government can solve most problems by promising to provide more programs [...]

Equality and Catholicism

America has taken freedom and equality as her highest political goals, and her most basic problems have to do with that commitment and how it should be interpreted. Recent events have focused attention on changing understandings of freedom and how they are weakening freedom of religion. Understandings of equality are also changing, with consequences for [...]

John Paul II Identified the Source of Our Present Cultural Malaise

Late in life, Pope John Paul II gave a series of interviews subsequently collected in the book Memory and Identity (2005). There, in response to a question about the pervasive ideologies that had swept Europe during the past couple of centuries, and which had resulted in the slaughter of millions, he contended that in order [...]

Chastity and the Child

Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me…for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." I’ve suggested in an earlier essay that chastity is but the giving of due reverence to the goodness and the holiness of sexual being, male and female.  A land where chastity—not mere abstinence, and not prideful scorn of [...]

So Where’s the Social? – Recovering Words and Culture in the Unsociety

“Where,” asks the editor, “will your town get the money to build new school rooms, and pay better salaries to more teachers?  Thousands of communities are wrestling with this problem, or will soon be faced with it.  We offer a suggestion.”  It is really quite simple.  Everyone, from the PTA to the local Rotarians, should [...]

Nuns, Budgets, and Buses…Oh My

The Nuns on the Bus tour ended in front of the United Methodist Church & Society Building here in DC on July 2nd. Sister Simone Campbell gave an impassioned speech invoking Catholic Social Teaching in defense of their ideas about the federal budget and criticized certain Catholic politicians for violating the tenets of Catholic Social [...]

The Great Lie: Pope Benedict XVI On Socialism

One doesn't usually expect a thorough-going reconstruction of the history of socialism in the late 19th century from the pope, but Benedict XVI delivered to us a wonderful--and oh-so-needed--reminder of what socialism was (and is), and why it went wrong. One can't but marvel at his intellectual power: He has discerned the essential problem that [...]

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