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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Catholic Social Teaching (again)

The biggest problem I have with the Roman Catholic Church is that it does not apply its tradition in social justice teaching to its own institution. I say this as a way to compliment the Church through its Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice in its latest restatement of that marvelous tradition.

Apparently people on left and right are energized by this statement: TOWARDS REFORMING THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AND MONETARY SYSTEMS IN THE CONTEXT OF GLOBAL PUBLIC AUTHORITY. 

Long title--but the message is not new or radical and is very consistent with the Catholic tradition.  It condemns liberalism (which means worship at the altar of the free-market).  It also decries the growing inequality, an equality that was just documented by the US Congressional Budget Office.  It asserts ethics in technology, politics over economics (much as the anti-totalitarian Hannah Arendt did in her writings).  This does not mean making government bigger or lesser.  It does mean putting the public interest ahead of private profit.  And it means making sure that government serves the public interest over private profit.  And a global Church would definitely see that as a global interest--and so call for global institutions to facilitate this.

I read the review of this statement by George Weigel (The Catholic Difference) or by the National Review and I wonder if they read the document.  I know they do not agree with the well-researched and Catholic theology based 1986 letter "Economic Justice for All" by the US Bishops because it did not sync with their neo-liberal values.  But this recent statement is certainly in sync with that letter as well.  

Disagree with Catholic teaching from officials, theologians, and pastors.  I sure do.  But I do very much appreciate the social justice teaching of the Church.

(A compendium of that teaching can be found here.)


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