Centesimus Annus

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

On the Legacy of St. John Paul the Great

The feast of St. John Paul II was celebrated on October 22, the 39th anniversary of Karol Wojtyła’s formal installation as the Bishop of Rome. This occasion is an ideal time to reflect on St. John Paul the Great's contribution to the Church and the world. Papal biographer George Weigel continues writing about the late Pope’s legacy, [...]

Does the Church Favor Capitalism and Democracy?

Although the recent book by Fr. Maciej Zieba is titled Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, it is really not so much about papal economics as it is about papal political philosophy. Further, it is not about the Catholic Church’s teaching on democratic capitalism broadly speaking [...]

Must Catholics Favor Socialized Medicine?

Among the many debates triggered throughout America by Obamacare, one concerns whether access to healthcare may be described as a “right.” Assuming such a right exists, a related issue is what this means for public policy. For Catholics, the answer to the first question seems clear. In a 2012 message to a conference for healthcare [...]

Subsidiarity Calls Us to Live Like Catholics

Subsidiarity is integral to a social doctrine based on natural law rather than technology. That ought to be a feature rather than a bug, but in today’s world it means no one can make sense of it or apply it coherently. The principle tells us that lower level associations such as families and local communities [...]

Source of Obamacare Woes: Economic Ignorance

It seems that every day new revelations emerge regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Supporters of the ACA are now starting to distance themselves from it as we hear reports of insurance companies dropping subscribers, households subscribing on the exchanges in unexpectedly low numbers and insurance costs higher than promised. Even the liberal New York [...]

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 [...]

The Virtuous Bourgeois

This book review first appeared in the June 1999 edition of Crisis Magazine. It continues yesterday's symposium on the "bourgeois spirit." See also Christopher Dawson's essay, Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind, Jeffrey Tucker's reply, In Defense of Bourgeois Civilization, Gerard Russello's account of Dawson's contribution, and Crisis editor John Zmirak's essay, Say It Loud: Bourgeois [...]

Credit Suisse Speaks Out on Patristics

With many intricate illustrations, John Henry Newman argued that the highest teaching office of the Church, cathedrated in Rome, is by paradox negative in the most positive sense. The Pope does not invent truths: he defines them against challenges. This is the essence of conservatism, not in a political sense, but in a pastoral ecology. [...]

How to Be a Moral Investor

Over the past 30 years, the language of business life has become replete with ethical phraseology. Words such as “social responsibility,” “business ethics,” and “triple bottom line” bounce around in MBA classes, in corporate boardrooms, and even on stock trading floors. This phenomenon is not limited to the business world. Individual and institutional investors regularly [...]

Cooperation: A Free Market Benefits Everyone

The following will explain the most important idea in the history of social analysis. The notion (actually, it's a description of reality that is all around us but rarely noticed) has been around for many centuries. It was first discovered by late-medieval monks working in Spain. It was given scientific precision in the classical period. [...]

Michael Novak, Founding Father

Twenty years ago, the American Catholic thinker Michael Novak put his head together with his friend Rocco Buttiglione, a distinguished Italian thinker, to see what might be done about educating a new cadre of young Catholic leaders in the social doctrine of the Church. John Paul II’s recently released social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, seemed an [...]

Why Things Cost Money

God has granted me a reprieve. Seven whole days have passed without a major American state abolishing marriage, or a Catholic hero dying prematurely at 98. That frees me up to return to the happy task of unfolding a layman's understanding of the market economy, viewed through the lens of Christian ethics and prudent political [...]

The Enduring Importance of Centesimus Annus

Amidst the excitement of John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, the 20th anniversary of the late pope’s most important social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, got a bit lost. Blessed John Paul II was not a man given to rubbing it in. Still, it is worth noting that the encyclical, which celebrated the collapse of European [...]

Reactionary Liberalism and Catholic Social Doctrine

The debate over Catholic social doctrine and U.S. social welfare policy took an unhelpful turn in May when a gaggle of academics fired a shot across the bow of House Speaker John Boehner, prior to his commencement address at the Catholic University of America. Their charge? That Boehner’s House voting record showed him to be [...]

Boehner’s Critics Misrepresent Catholic Social Teaching

  Earlier this month, over 80 Catholic scholars -- mostly professors -- sent an open letter to Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, on the occasion of his presenting the commencement address at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. They accused him of being out of line with the [...]

Breaking Stained Glass Windows

One of the classic texts written in defense of political and economic freedom is Frederic Bastiat's The Law. I remember having the book pressed on me as a high school senior by a smart, nerdy-looking libertarian who worked at the Laissez-Faire Bookstore in New York, and I wish that I'd read it then. It would [...]

Five Things Every Catholic Businessperson Must Know

A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation with one of our country's most well-known and respected business leaders. It started as I was chatting with the man's wife, and she asked me what I did for fun. I could have told her I enjoyed golf, or gardening, or skiing, or any number of [...]

Does the Church Condemn Capitalism?

The headline of a report on a recent survey summed up its findings: "Capitalism Against Christianity, Americans Believe." Is that good news or bad news? What should Catholics think? Does Catholic social teaching imply opposition to capitalism? The answers you get to those questions would no doubt differ dramatically depending on whom you ask. Although [...]

Catholic Social Thought and the 2012 Election

  Barring an international conflagration or another 9/11, both of which may God forbid, the 2012 election is going to be fought on the question of America's fiscal future: Will the United States get a grip now, and over the next several decades, on the costs associated with an aging society? Or will we spend-and-borrow [...]

Theology of the Corporation: A Conversation with Michael Novak

Religious philosopher Michael Novak, cofounder of Crisis Magazine, was the 1994 recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. According to many observers, Novak's influence played an important role in the drafting of Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II's 1991 encyclical on Catholic social teaching. In particular, Novak's work is seen within the Holy [...]

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