Thursday, April 07, 2005

John Paul II and Economics

Stephen Bainbridge of Tech Central Station examines Pope John Paul II's encyclical ( Centesimus Annus ) in a piece entitled " The Dominating Prophet of Freedom". The encyclical reveals the Pope's strident rejection of socialism; which was significant in separating him from previous Catholic teachings that flirted with endorsement of command economies. This is not to say that Pope John Paul II was totally on board with "Club For Growth" style capitalism. His words, however, are profound indeed. Take a look:

Socialsim considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialsim likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. A person who is deprived of something he can call 'his own', and of the possibility of earning a living through his own initiative, comes to depend on the social machine and on those who control it. This makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community. In contrast, from the Christian vision of the human person there necessarily follows a correct picture of society. According to ... the whole social doctrine of the Church, the social nature of man is not completely fulfilled in the State, but is realized in various intermediary groups, beginning with the family and including economic, social, political and cultural groups which stem from human nature itself and have their own autonomy, always with a view to the common good.