Rerum Novarum

The White Supremacist Roots of the Abortion Industry

In an interview published in Forbes Magazine on July 8, rapper, producer, and presidential aspirant Kanye West spoke out against Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. West has made waves in recent years for his support of President Trump and his very public conversion to Christianity. While his support for the President has cooled, his [...]

Leo XIII’s Vision of Social Justice

Pope Leo XIII, born 210 years ago this year, is perhaps best known for his Marianism. He was one of the Church’s greatest promoters of the Holy Rosary, and was the first pontiff to embrace the title of Mediatrix for Our Lady. Yet Leo was one of the great thinkers of the modern age, having [...]

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 [...]

Towards a Catholic Politics

A recent survey commissioned by EWTN News shed light on political fragmentation among American Catholics. Reading through the poll prompts the question of whether a unified Catholic politics is possible. Declan Leary recently lamented in these pages that American Catholics apparently “have no interest strong enough to transcend party bonds and operate politically as Catholics,” and [...]

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 [...]

The False Prophets of Climate Change

Due to teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s thunderous—and divisive—speech to the United Nations last week, climate change is getting another moment in the sun. It may be tempting to brush off her comments as youthful hyperbole, but Thunberg’s speech does not stand alone. She’s the most prominent figure in a worldwide movement of young people who [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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