Catholics living in the United State hear a lot about “free markets,” “limited government” and low taxes – the holy trinity of liberal economics. Not a day goes by, especially now that we are less than two months away from the presidential election, that we’re reminded about the alleged benefits of enacting these policies.
Economic liberalism, generally speaking, reigns supreme in America, just as it does in most every Western nation. Sadly, Catholics the world over have been influenced by its dogmas, opting to view economic life not through the lens of Holy Mother Church but of her enemies.
While it is right and just for followers of Christ to emphasize papal documents like Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, it must never be forgotten that the Church does not and has never supported the idea that taxation is theft or that the minimum wage law should be abolished. So too has the Church never endorsed the idea that the federal government can and should should solve every social ill or that labor unions have a right to extort employers so their members can be paid unduly high wages.
Rather, principles like the common good, private property, subsidiarity, social charity, social justice, the dignity of labor, and just wages (all understood within the context of man’s supernatural end) guide the Church’s declarations on economic activity.
Far from being a science unto its own, economics, a field primarily concerned with human action, falls within the purview of the Catholic Church. Rationalists and secularists may cry “separation of Church and State!” but those who possess the virtue of faith know that the Social Reign of Jesus Christ not only allows but imposes a duty on the Catholic Church to make known the obligations of political as well as business leaders.
Below are past episodes of Church and State with Stephen Kokx where he and his guests (Gabriel S. Sanchez, Allen Cox, John Horvat II and Dr. Michael King) discuss economics from a Catholic perspective. Among other things, you’ll learn about capitalism, the fast food industry, usury, distributism, regulation, central banking and more. Listen to other Church and State episodes by clicking here.
On a final note, the following two articles (both taken from the website of the Society of St. Pius X) are most helpful in understanding papal teaching on economics: “Labor Day: What Should Catholics Think?” and “Social Doctrine: Thoughts from St. Pius X“