27 April, 2015

Who's Looking Out For You?

As we approach the 2016 election run in the United States of America, you can expect the usual claims from both of the major political parties about how they are really on your side. You probably know the narrative. Republican candidates will assure us that the Democrats are all about big government taking away what you've earned to give it to someone else. Democrat candidates will assure us that the Republicans are all about giving tax breaks to the rich and don't care what happens to you. Some people may ask which of these parties is really on your side. I prefer to ask if either one is.

Catholic Social Doctrine: St. John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis

Just a few years after Laborem Exercens, on December 30, 1987, John Paul II issued the second of his social encyclicals, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis. Unlike most of the social encyclicals, which were published on an anniversary of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, was issued to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio. In fact, John Paul II states that he desires “to pay homage to this historic document of Paul VI” (§3) and “to extend the impact of that message by bringing it to bear…upon the present historical moment…” (§4). Not surprisingly the Holy Father devotes the first part of Sollicitudo to a discussion of Paul VI’s encyclical. He points out that Populorum Progressio brought out the “worldwide dimension” (§9) of the social question more clearly than any previous papal document. That encyclical had been devoted to the “development” or “progressio” of the peoples of the world, not merely to development conceived of as an accumulation of goods, but as promoting “the good of every man and of the whole man.”[1] Now in his own document, John Paul proposes “to develop the teaching of Paul VI’s Encyclical” (§11).

Distributism and Campaign Finance Reform

This article was originally published by
The Distributist Review on 19 July, 2010

It’s campaign time again in the US. The issue of how political campaigns are financed has become a popular topic in recent years, with both of the major parties accusing each other of bad practice. Everyone knows that the ability to fund political campaigns has a direct influence on political policies. Our constitutional republic is supposed to act in the interests of the several states and the people, not those of corporations, union leaders, or other groups. However, as John M├ędaille says, we really live in a republic of PACs. As long as organizations with large bank rolls can exert influence on our government’s policies, putting their interests over those of the people, we will remain a plutocracy.

16 April, 2015

Catholic Social Doctrine: St. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens

After the brief pontificate of John Paul I (August to September 1978), John Paul II began his reign in October of 1978. As is well-known, John Paul is the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and the first Pole ever chosen as Vicar of Christ. John Paul II’s encyclicals and other writings have often been longer and more meditative than those of previous pontiffs. In a sense, he has created a body of work which is a consciously interrelated statement of the Faith. He himself often points out the connection of one dogma with another, for example, the relationship between the Church’s doctrine of the nature of man and her doctrine of man’s rights and duties in society.[1]

A Problem With Over-Centralizing Production

This article was originally published by
The Distributist Review on 20 August, 2010

We distributists advocate the decentralization of production whenever practical. We are challenged by claims that centralization is more efficient in terms of cost. “What’s wrong with Big Business” is a question we need to answer. The founders of Distributism focused on the idea that, when the overwhelming majority of citizens work for a wage at jobs controlled by relatively few wealthy individuals, their situation is a form of slavery. It may not be as bad as the slavery of the 19th century but, in many ways, the house slaves of that era didn’t have it as bad as the slaves of the field.

09 April, 2015

Catholic Social Doctrine: From Pius XII Through Paul VI

The successor of Pius XI in the papacy was Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958. Although today he is often not appreciated, I think he was one of the greatest popes of the last two centuries. He issued major encyclicals on the Mystical Body of Christ, on the sacred liturgy, on biblical studies and on modern philosophical and theological errors. Most notably, in 1950 he infallibly proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of our Lady into Heaven. He also re-instituted the Easter Vigil Mass on the evening of Holy Saturday, and, in reaction to the changed conditions of modern life drastically reduced the Eucharistic fast to three hours in order to allow more people to receive our Lord in Holy Communion.

Although Pius XII did not issue any social encyclicals, he gave a great number of addresses on social topics. And because of their importance, I will quote from a few of them in this article.

02 April, 2015

Your Tax Dollars

Here's a sobering thought. If we were to actually pay for what the government provides, our taxes would be almost doubled.