Rerum Novarum

khomeini

The Mind of the Ideologue

On February 16, 1979, a secular leftist professor of politics, Richard Falk, enjoying in the security of France a sabbatical for international meddling, wrote an editorial for The New York Times, entitled “Trusting Khomeini.” When the history of the collapse of western civilization is written, that editorial should merit more than a footnote. The pro-western [...]

Mark Shea’s Economic Inquisition

The topic of income inequality is popular not only among secular progressives but politically minded Catholics as well. If income inequality is a problem—and even libertarians would agree that it can be, depending on how the inequality comes about—the proposed solution is often for the government to “do something” about it, usually through confiscatory taxation [...]

Papal Teaching Warns Against Excessive Government

We are familiar enough with left-of-center Catholics, like Catholics United and the professors who publicly opposed House Speaker John Boehner’s honorary degree from The Catholic University of America in 2011, beating the drum for governmental—especially federal government—“solutions” to problems. We also witness it, however, from some Catholics known for being committed to the orthodox teaching [...]

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 [...]

The Long War Against the Family (Part I)

The progressive cultural elite has long perpetuated prejudices against the family that, unchallenged, lead to its ruin. Among several I cite three: (1) the assertion that marriage makes men and women less free; (2) the assumption that children are a burden; and (3) the insistence that sexual differentiation is a fiction. These three ideas represent, [...]

The Modern State Causes the Problems it Pretends to Fix

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 [...]

Liberalism Brings Slavery When It Confuses License with Liberty

In my latest essays I’ve noted that there cannot be a “social teaching” unless we know what a society is.  Pope Leo XIII, in his many social encyclicals, expresses the constant wisdom of the Church when he affirms the reality of society—neither a numerical aggregate nor a collective—and when he sees this reality as rooted [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Is Feminism a Heresy?

The following essay first appeared in Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind, ed., John Zmirak. It is reprinted with permission of the publisher.   You might be surprised to hear feminism described as a "heresy." Like most Americans, you may assume that the feminist movement simply asserts that women are full [...]

Dawson’s Usura Canto

It gives me no pleasure addressing Christopher Dawson's views  on economics. I learned much from Dawson in my formative years, reading The Sundering of Christendom and The Crisis of Western Education back in high school, and many of his other books in later years. His synthesis of Catholic and Western history is so persuasive, and [...]

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. [...]

No Family, No Society

I begin by asserting a principle that, if one troubles to read Scripture, the encyclicals of the popes, and the decrees of ecumenical councils, is simply unassailable. It is this: There is an inner identity between Catholic teaching on sex and Catholic teaching on the society. Pope Leo XIII is quite clear on these matters. [...]

Private Charity Versus Government Welfare

Less than three years has passed since the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Charity in Truth. As some readers may remember, the encyclical caused quite a stir both in secular and religious circles -- as have many of the past papal encyclicals dealing with economic questions, going back to Pope Leo XIII's groundbreaking [...]

The Church and the Unions

Judging by the impassioned commentary from some Catholic quarters during recent confrontations between unionized public-sector workers and state governments, you'd think we were back in 1919, with the Church defending the rights of wage slaves laboring in sweat shops under draconian working conditions. That would hardly seem to be the circumstances of, say, unionized American [...]

How Catholics Commit Political Suicide

Anti-Catholicism has always been a problem in America, although today it is nothing like what existed in an earlier era. Catholics are part of the nation's economic, political, and cultural establishment, no longer the lesser citizens of a society that was generically Protestant and fairly proud of that fact. But every so often, events conspire [...]

Toward a More Just Economy

I can only do justice to John Mueller's magnum opus Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element (and it is "magnum," with 470 dense pages and copious footnotes) by comparing it to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, Ludwig von Mises' Human Action, and the wrongheaded but immensely influential General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by [...]

How John Locke Influenced Catholic Social Teaching

It isn't often that John Locke is mentioned in discussions of Catholic social teaching, unless it is to set him up as an example of all that the Church supposedly rejects. After all, Locke is considered one of the founders of a liberal and individualist political tradition that was rejected by the papacy in the [...]

Jesus Loves You; Caesar and Mammon, Not So Much

Here are some recent scenes from American Christianity waiting on the rich and powerful in the hope of catching some table scraps. You got your Christian representatives of the Thing that Used to Be Liberalism in bed with millionaires bent on "tailoring the message" to the needs of pro-abortion zealots: Correcting his initial comments denying [...]

The Church, Yesterday and Today

In the 1970s, I inhabited a world where the Second Vatican Council was seen as an unmitigated disaster. Nuns stopped wearing their old habits -- or simply left their convents altogether. Priests left their ministry. There was trite music at Mass, and Benediction seemed to have been abolished. Doctrine wasn't taught anymore, and catechesis for [...]

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