Pope Leo XIII

Islam’s Trojan Horse

“Active shooter at Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi.” That was the breaking news story on Thursday morning. It turned out that the shooter was no longer active, having been “neutralized” after wounding a member of the base security force. As it happens, I was in the middle of writing a piece—the article you are [...]

The Fifties: Catholic Paradise Lost?

Memory is a tricky thing, and historical memory can be trickier. For example, to many Catholic Americans, the 1950s look like a golden age of innocence, when life—especially church life—looked like a series of Norman Rockwell and Harold Anderson illustrations. As with all such reminiscences, it is not entirely inaccurate. Certainly America’s Catholics benefited alongside [...]

Saint Joseph the Worker, Ora Pro Nobis

Each year on May 1, the Catholic faithful celebrate the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker. This feast day, instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955, was meant to provide downtrodden laborers with a spiritual patron, as well as an alternative to the communist labor agitation that was prevalent at the time. The Catholic [...]

The Prophets of Post-Humanism

Andrew Yang is a man ahead of his time. Mark my words: within our lifetime, his ominous-sounding “Freedom Dividend—basically a universal basic income, or UBI—will become a plank of at least one of our two major political parties. And how could it be otherwise? Mr. Yang argues (correctly) that the developed world is going through [...]

Tucker Carlson’s Catholic Mind

Lest anyone think that American politics is in any danger of receding back to pre-2016 partisan boundaries, Tucker Carlson used his Fox News segment last week to go after hedge fund manager and GOP mega-donor Paul Singer… for his free-market economics. Catholics should be thrilled by this development. Carlson condemns what he calls “vulture capitalism,” [...]

History’s Answer to Modern Despair

“Having trivialized the past by equating it with outmoded . . . fashions and attitudes, people today resent anyone who draws on the past in serious discussions of contemporary conditions or attempts to use the past as a standard by which to judge the present... A denial of the past, superficially progressive and optimistic, proves [...]

Acton Tends to Corrupt

Lord Acton’s dictum, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” has been getting a good airing in the media lately. “Donald Trump, Absolutely Corrupted” ran an October 11 Washington Post headline, but they’re not the only ones quoting Acton as a satisfactory explanation of the President of the United States’ disturbing tendency to run [...]

We Are All Ahmarists Now, Part II

[This is part two of Michael Warren Davis's two-part reflection on the Ahmari-French debate on the future of Christian conservatism. Read the first part here.] The second major point of contention between Sohrab Ahmari and David French is on the question of civility. To again quote from Mr. Ahmari’s first shot across the Frenchists’ bow: [...]

Cardinal Marx is “Impressed” with Karl Marx

“The Marxist ideology is wrong,” said Pope Francis in December 2013, amid early public accusations of him having Communist ideas. “But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.” One of them, possibly, if not apparently, is one of Francis’s closest advisers, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, [...]

Catholicism, the World and a Warrior Angel

Until recently, the word snowflake enjoyed only one meaning: frozen rain in winter. But in the last year or so the word assumed a secondary meaning: students in elite college campuses who fall to pieces at the least offense or contrary opinion to their own. This new youthful brittleness makes perfect sense in the context [...]

A Revolutionary Pope for Revolutionary Times

Eighty-one year old men are not the first people who come to mind when we hear the word “revolutionary.” But 125 years ago, one such man—Vincenzo Pecci, better known to history as Pope Leo XIII—did something radical. By issuing the first modern social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, he ushered in a new era for Catholicism’s relationship [...]

The Beauty of Catholic Order

We didn’t dance. It was an ironclad rule of the schools and religious communities of my youth that dancing was forbidden, a prohibition enforced with the same rigor as the edict to not “drink, smoke, or chew. Or go with girls who do.” Consequently, I first danced during my graduate school days at Boston College, [...]

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 [...]

The Rich, Not States, are Called to Help Others

At the end of part eight in this series, I observed that Pope Leo XIII lays a heavy obligation upon the rich.  What is that obligation?  Who are the rich? Like Thomas Aquinas, whom he admired so well, Leo is quite practical.  It is right for a man to provide for his family so that [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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