Catholic Social Teaching in Economics

Popes such as Leo XIII, Pips X’, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI have all written on many of the controversial topics regarding capitalist and socialist views. Much of their advice pertains to the economic issues involving the conditions of working classes, human freedom and dignity, charity, the right to private property, economic activity and profit, labor, and the rejection of socialism and unregulated capitalism. Rerun Nouveau”, “Quadriplegia Ann.”, “Ecumenists Anus”, and “Caracas In Variegate” are all Encyclical letters which make up the core of Catholic Social Teaching, written not only to make it possible to think of economics in different way and to try to give the best economic solutions, but also to provide advice for an economy that has the potential to serve the people and give them a fair chance at living the best life possible.

In each of these four Encyclical letters, the Catholic Church has identified many of the flaws in our capitalist economy as well as socialist solutions, but has also provided morally sound, persuasive advice on how to deal with many of these problems. “At the time being, the condition of the working classes is the pressing question of the hour, and nothing can be of higher interest to all classes of the State than that it would be rightly and reasonably settled” (URN, p. 60). This specific topic is one that has been a huge focus for the Catholic Church for years.

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Around the time “Rerun Nouveau” was written, the world was seeing huge, radical changes and capitalism was growing rapidly; therefore, problems regarding conditions of working classes and human dignity began to arise. However, since that time the Church has continued to fight for those who live within this problem in our world. Pope Leo XIII explains that we need to fight to secure and save the working people from the cruelty f men of greed, who use other people as instruments for money making (URN, p. 42).

This is definitely more or less a flaw of capitalism. It provides such an easy way to take advantage of other people in an “every man for himself” type of society. However, there is a reason this problem has been lingering for so many years. Although there is no doubt that conditions have drastically changed throughout the years, especially since “Rerun Nouveau” was written, the Church still believes that there is much need for improvement. This is definitely a problem that Marx sought out to solve with his revolutionary ideas and socialist solutions.

However, the Church strongly believes in the principles that show that it is impossible to be completely Catholic while being a true socialist, mainly because of Socialism’s atheistic and as well as materialistic nature. This is definitely a big reason Catholicism disagrees with socialism, but Marx also wanted to improve society Just as this change is how the Catholic Church and Socialism differ. The Church believes that the law should favor ownership, and that policies should induce as many people as possible to become owners. Socialism, however, does not favor ownership.

Socialist sews favor equal distribution of income and no private ownership, which is the opposite of what the Church believes. Catholicism has thus been faced with the task of accepting capitalism as our economic dependency, but also to provide adequate advice on how to make this capitalist system more acceptable in terms of morals and human dignity. According to Pips X’, free competition has destroyed itself. “Economic dictatorship has supplanted the free market; unbridled ambition for power has likewise succeeded greed for gain; all economic life has become tragically hard, inexorable, ND cruel” (QUA, p. 09). Even though, this encyclical was written during the Great Depression, a period which the working class was seeing horrific conditions, this quote still relates to our present economic system in some ways. If free competition has destroyed itself, then why move forward with continuing to believe in capitalist system? The Church does not believe that capitalism should necessarily be abandoned, but rather reformed. Since our economy is founded upon ownership and labor, the principles of right reason must be kept in mind and put into practice (QUA, p. 110).

One principle of right reason includes fully and faithfully performing the work that has been freely agreed upon. It is principles like these that Catholic Social Teaching preaches, because the Church, as well as myself, believes that what the Church has to offer can in fact make the world a better place to live in. Owners should not look upon their workers as bondsmen, but instead should keep in mind religion and the good of each person’s soul. Employers should not tax beyond their strength or employ them in work unsuited for age or sex, and the rich must refrain from cutting down the workman’s earnings (URN, p. ). These are only several of the teachings of Catholicism regarding the condition of workers, and yes, it was written in a time in which this advice was much more needed; however, today is still filled with greed for power and money, and if only more people could inform themselves as well as others with some of the principles Catholic Social Teaching has to offer, I firmly believe that the relationships in the working world would drastically improve.

Another main concern for the Catholic Church that was addressed either explicitly or implicitly was the demand for human freedom and dignity. Many religious figures might agree that in our capitalist economic setting, many of the people today turn to external and material things.

In “Caracas In Variegate”, Pope Benedict XVI explains that the good that is linked to living in society is the common good, and this good is not sought for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can actually pursue their good within it (C.V., p. 7). However, I believe that pursuing the common good of a society must first begin with each and every individual’s freedom and dignity. No one will pursue the common good of society if hey feel as if they are being cheated out of their own individual freedoms and rights.

I believe that there are many issues that can be linked to human freedom and dignity as a whole; however, numerous Church leaders throughout the past have had great concern with topics such as rights of workers, distribution of income, and the right to In “Caracas In Variegate”, Benedict XVI says that the repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must be honored today even more than in the past, as a response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international and local level (C.V., p. 5). Obviously this encyclical probably pertains more to our present economy than the earlier letters, but the current market still threatens the rights of many people. For example, Benedict XVI explains that the market has helped form new means of cooperation between states to attract foreign businesses to set up production centers through deregulation of the labor market. What kind of deregulation he means I am not so sure; however, he does say that this has led to downsizing social security systems in order to seek better competitive advantage elsewhere in the global market (C.V., p. 5). I agree that this would endanger rights of workers if social security lost the capacity to carry out its task. This is Just one example of the capitalist attitude of seeking as much profit as possible, through searching for outsource production and increased purchasing power. Even Grumman and Friedman would recognize how these types of attitudes could put a worker’s rights at risk (even though Friedman would probably say that it is anyone’s individual right to seek work anywhere they wished).

Though there are probably more problems than I think involving workers’ rights, I believe that capitalism provides more freedom and protection in that sense than socialism (more regulation and less freedom to choose), and I think the Church recognizes that. The Catholic Church demands that workers have a limitation of working hours, hygienic conditions, Just wages that should be sufficient for supporting him or herself, and many more (CA, p. ) The Church also supports the right for workers to form unions or other associations to maintain their rights for fair wages and working conditions. Capitalism more or less provides most f these demands even if it did not in its earlier years. I believe many economists would agree, especially since it can be seen that as the years go by, there are always more and more concerns about health and safety, especially in the labor market. It does not take a Catholic background to agree with that. If a workman’s wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income” (URN, p. 46). It is attitudes such as this that people should begin to adopt and put into practice so that we may be more structurally secure and have more productive and positive attitudes.

That is one of the main things which I think our country today is in great need of. The Church is not saying it is wrong to earn a lot of money, but it does say that a man’s riches must be used in the right way. Also, the opportunity to work should be provided to those who are willing and able to work, and Just wages should be kept within proper limits (excessive lowering or increasing of wages causes unemployment) (QUA, p. 74). If you eave the opportunity to make a big salary, work hard, and go about it the right and honest way, that is great!

Every man has the right and responsibility to work and earn a complementary wage. Even though economists such as Grumman see the growth in inequality of income, even he would agree with this idea. However, the reason the capitalist economy, it has become too easy for people to forget their purpose on earth, and instead devote their life to material goods, wealth, and status. Socialist economists do not like the idea of a few people earning huge incomes while there are other poor workers Just as worthy. Catholicism would agree with this view.

One of Mar’s main goals was to rid of unequal incomes and the struggles of different classes, which seems like a reasonable intention. However, the socialist focus is that human association has been instituted for the sake of material advantage alone. Therefore, Socialism is no more ethical in this sense than some of the corrupt intentions within capitalism. The Catholic Church recognizes that it does not have technical solutions to economic problems and does not claim to interfere in any way in the politics of the United States.

However, as John Paul II explains, she does have a mission of truth to accomplish (C.V., p. 9). Part of this mission of truth is to provide the advice that will eventually lead to the main goal and reason of our entire existence, which is eternal salvation. There are many economists out there who probably disagree with many of Catholicism’s views; however, I think that they would be wrong to disagree with the fact that if more people truly practiced some of the advice the Church has given, the economy, as well as the entire country would have a better opportunity to operate more efficiently.

But I do not think that it is the economists agreeing or disagreeing tit Catholic Social Teaching (personally, I do not think most of them give the time of day to try to understand what the Church’s stance on the economy is). Instead, I believe that it is the rich, powerful, ambitious business men and women throughout the country that let their desires get in the way of their obligations as citizens of a community. It was previously mentioned that the Church does not disagree with anyone making a huge salary.

However, what it does teach is that we should give back to the community and charities in any way we can after fulfilling the responsibility of taking care of family and living well. If more citizens thought about these types of concepts, our society would be a much more pleasant one to live in. The Catholic Church and I believe that the growth in inequality of income would slow, relationships in the working world would improve, and the citizens of our country would have a better, more defined sense of human freedom and dignity.

In order to accomplish the Church’s mission of truth, as well as to accomplish the goal of maintaining mankind’s freedom and human dignity, she has also put great emphasis on charity, which is the driving force behind the development of every errors and of all humanity. Charity, according to Pope Benedict WI, is “at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine”, and it builds community, bringing people together without imposing barriers or limits (C.V., p. 2).

It is at the heart of her doctrine mainly because the Church believes that so many of the problems we face today deal with the social aspect of our country and economy. Throughout the years, charity has been misconstrued, deprived of meaning, and undervalued (C.V., p. 2). The problem is that it has been easily dismissed as irrelevant for giving direction to moral accessibility (which the Church views as vital in terms of providing a more efficient economic system for the people of our country).

If charity were to become more of a vocation for us, as the Church says it should, I believe that more people would see impact it would have on human relations within the working world. Our economy must be structured and governed in an ethical manner that keeps the interests of the people constantly in mind, mainly because our economic sphere is part of human activity (C.V., p. 36) There is a reason why charity is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching. If given he chance, the concept of charity can be shared and communicated.

It has the power to enable men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allow them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations, and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things (C.V., p. 4). The Catholic Church has written about charity with such importance for many reasons, but I believe that our society’s assessment of the value and substance of things is a huge part of it. In our capitalist economy, as a whole I think that we have become too intrigued by material goods and what the status of a person may be.

I am not saying this is Capitalism’s fault, but we are surrounded by these attitudes and there is no denying it. The Church knows that if it could help solve this dilemma, we would not only have a greater chance at reaching eternal salvation, but we would be more likely to treat each other with more care, make morally sound business decisions, and better serve society as a whole. We need to embrace capitalism, but we also need to emphasize that we cannot continue to live the way the present world says we should. Human relations need to be greatly improved, and the teachings of the Catholic

Church (charity, for an example) are a way to help bring this about. Another aspect of preserving human freedom and dignity is the whole idea of the right to private property. Catholic Social Teaching has spent a considerable amount of time on this subject. This is also where socialism differs greatly from capitalist beliefs and Catholicism. Socialists and Marxist believe that by abolishing private property, individuals will ultimately have more freedom. Catholicism, however, teaches that the right to private property is fundamental for the autonomy and development of the person (CA, p. ). John Paul II explains that “the original source of all that is good is the very act of God, who created both the earth and man, and who gave the earth to man so that he might have dominion over it by his work and enjoy its fruits” (CA, p. 31). God gave the earth to each single person; therefore, humanity has an inherited right to private property. However, the earth does not give its gifts to man without work, which is man’s response to God’s gift. It is in this way that we, as free human beings, make part of the earth we have acquired through work, our own.

Thus, the elation between work and property shows how extremely important the protection of human freedom and dignity is through topics such as rights of workers, distribution of income, and the right to private property. Catholic Social Teaching says that all people have the right to private property. But do all people really have the means of acquiring private property? My answer to this question is no. So many people in our country “do not have the means which would enable them to take their place in an effective and humanly dignified way within a productive system in which work is truly central” (CA, p. 2). This could be because of poverty or bad family situations which make it difficult to acquire basic knowledge in order to develop their potential to have the same chances as others may have in such as socialism or Marxism probably blame that fact on Capitalism. In a sense they are right. Maybe this is also a reason Marx and Hellbender agree that private property should be abolished, so every individual has exactly the equal amount of freedom in regards to what they should or should not be able to own.

Capitalism is a form of government in which all individuals can attempt to go out in the real world ND try their hardest to be successful at whatever it is they want to do. The fact is, not everyone is equal in terms of the opportunities they have to be what they want to be and do what they want to do; this is the problem which many socialists and Marxist have. This is exactly why Catholic Social Teaching strives to provide well rounded solutions in order to minimize this social inequality and inequality of opportunity as much as possible.

If these inequalities increase, social cohesion will suffer, the economy will suffer, and democracy will be placed at risk (C.V., p. 32). This is why the Church attempts to protect workers’ rights, help solve distribution of income problems, and protect private property. All the topics that Catholic Social Teaching analyzes are an attempt to minimize these problems as much as possible while maintaining a free enterprise economy. This is because the Church believes that the free market appears to be the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs (CA, p. 34).

The Church agrees most with the free market system because of numerous aspects, but it does not support it completely. Though the Catholicism has claimed to live that the free market appears to be the most effective system, Catholic Social Teaching also demands that the market should be controlled by forces of society and by the State, so that society’s needs are satisfied (CA, p. 35). This would mean that the majority of the people should have a huge impact on the decisions our economy and country make. The Church also believes that the State must also contribute according to the principles of solidarity and subsidiaries.

The principle of subsidiaries involves contributing indirectly, such as creating favorable conditions for economic activity, ND solidarity refers to directly contributing by defending the weak and limiting working conditions or supporting the unemployed (CA, p. 1 5). By providing Catholic Social Teaching, citizens could then look at some of the decisions they would normally make with a more efficient, beneficial standpoint. The State, or government, would also make the decisions it would need to, such as stepping in and providing things such as regulation or welfare.

Pope Leo XIII says that “the State must not absorb the individual of the family; both should be allowed free and untransformed action so far as is consistent with the common good and interest of others” (URN, p. 34) A successful system, in my opinion, is one that listens to the people it is sworn to protect, while providing guidance and protection; therefore, I agree with Catholic Social Teaching in terms of its view on the free enterprise system. This is not exactly what Friedman or Grumman had in mind, since the first preferred very little if not zero government action, and the second preferred a much bigger government role.

However, they would each agree that the free market is also the most efficient way to bring about a stable economy. However, the effectiveness of the free market greatly depends on business, and the role of profit within economic activity. Pope John Paul II explains that the Church acknowledges the role of profit as a sign extremely well, while workers are being humiliated or mistreated. That is the reason why the Church explains the true goal of a business. “If profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty’ (C.V., p. 1). This is why the real purpose is to not only make a profit, but to also be a community of persons while serving the whole of society. I think the Pope has brought this up, not necessarily because he thinks millions of workers are being humiliated in the work force, but because he thinks that our economy, and the business people within it can do a lot better Job if they Just looked at the bigger picture. He also brings this up because along with the fact that we as a society may not always strive to contribute to the common good, but we have also changed the way we see our own needs.

The needs of many citizens have seen a huge rise in the demand for quality (CA, p. 36). This consumerism has led to many cases in which consumer attitudes and life-styles have often been damaging to spiritual and even physical health. Yes, this has happened in our capitalistic economy, but it could happen in any form of economy. I do not think the Pope’s point here was to point out a flaw of capitalism, but rather to reveal another problem, which deals with the fact that the world’s wealth may be growing, but inequalities are still on the rise.

If we can strive to fix Just one more aspect of our lives and change the way we view profit, the result could possibly be a more functional society. The relationship between capital and especially labor has also proven to be a popular topic throughout the years within the Catholic Church, but first, let us look at how Marx understood the relationship between capital and labor. A commodity, according to Marx, is something that has use-value and exchange-value. Commodities combine two elements, matter and labor, and the determination of exchange value is brought about by the quantity of labor that is put into each commodity.

Therefore, in capitalism, labor has become a way of valuing commodities. However, the Catholic Church teaches us that labor is not Just a commodity, and it Anton be bought and sold like a commodity because the worker’s human dignity must be recognized. Socialist thinkers believe that it is this reason that eventually capitalism will be proven to not work. I am not saying that socialists are correct, but even the Catholic Church has recognized this problem within capitalism, and demands that it be improved.

In order for it to be improved, people must open their hearts and minds and truly take in what Catholic Social teaching has to offer. We must treat each other with more human dignity, and must put what we do not only in our best interest, but the interest of society as a whole. In each of these four Encyclical letters, the Catholic Church has identified many of the flaws regarding our capitalist economy as well as socialist solutions, but has also provided morally sound, persuasive advice on how to deal with many of these problems.

While the Church has made it a mission to identify the flaws of certain economic solutions throughout the years, it has also attempted to give a solid efficient, stable, and Just economy. A socialist approach to solve many of the economic problems we face would not be correct for multiple reasons; however, we think and protect human dignity and freedom, while putting the souls of others round us first. Popes such as Leo XIII, Pips X’, John Paul II, and Benedict WI have all written on many of the controversial topics regarding capitalist and socialist views, and many of the solutions they have provided are not difficult tasks by any means.

They are challenging people to change the normal way of thinking in our society, and put more care and dignity into how we treat others, while providing and serving our communities as well. Much of their advice pertains to the economic issues involving the condition of working classes, human freedom and dignity, the right to private reporter, economic activity and profit, labor, and the rejection of socialism and unregulated capitalism. “Rerun Nouveau”, “Quadriplegia Ann.”, “Ecumenists chance at living the best life possible.

Catholic Social Teaching has inspired many to stand united under the leadership and guidance of the Church, to contribute to the “reconstruction of human society’ (QUA, p. 147). Benedict WI. Encyclical Letter, Caracas in Variegate: On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth. 2009. John Paul II. Encyclical Letter, Ecumenists Anus. 1991. Leo XIII. Encyclical Letter, Rerun Nouveau. 1891. Pips X’. Encyclical Letter, Quadriplegia Ann.. 1931.