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An Economics of Justice and Charity

January 23, 2019 (418 words)

This Christmas I received a book as a present from one of my considerate children, who shall remain nameless. (But she knows who she is.) I have started reading this book from the beginning, which of course is what every author wants their readers to do.

But I have also already flipped to the final page, because I am impatient by nature and can’t wait to see how the story will turn out. What follows is the last, long paragraph from this year’s favorite Christmas present:

“Now if all this is true, then it applies to men whether as individuals or as groups. It is true that human beings are saved or damned as individuals. But as I pointed out already, we cannot ignore God’s law just because we are acting as part of a group. Pope Pius XI noted that our economic actions, ‘whether of society as a body or of individuals,’ must be linked to that hierarchy that has God as its apex. Catholics especially should try to make sure that the very structures of our communal and corporate organizations, from the state to the family and everything in between, will not hinder – and if possible even promote – the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.

“The larger and more complex an organization is, the more we must take care that it does not begin to exist for itself alone, free from the rule of Jesus Christ. Many of the social encyclicals since Leo XIII devote much space to topics such as relations between employers and employees, between one industry and another, and between international trading partners – because the supreme pontiffs have always known that it is too easy for sin to enter into human affairs.

“Particularly in the modern world, we experience not just simple human sin anymore, but what John Paul II called ‘structures of sins’ – institutions and established patterns of behavior that embody, promote, and continue sin. As much as possible, we should try to set up ‘structures of virtue’ instead. Only in that way will the kingship that Jesus Christ holds over the human race be manifested in our conduct and in the conduct of nations and of all the institutions and associations that we use and enjoy in our pilgrimage to our true and eternal Fatherland.”

An Economics of Justice & Charity:
Catholic Social Teaching,
Its Development And Contemporary Relevance

Thomas Stork
Angelico Press

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
January 23, 2019

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