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The Editors | 09.24.08

Faith

Libertarian Heresy

Daniel Finn, Commonweal [Read the Article]

You don't often find Commonweal hunting heretics. In the latest issue, Daniel Finn takes aim at Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute and other Catholics who force fit Catholic social teaching into free market ideology. Sirico, he says, "uses his tendentious view of law and morality to conclude that raising taxes to help others is unchristian, since citizens have no choice but to pay the tax... One wonders if this conviction hasn’t been engendered by a libertarian view of government actions, where such redistribution is always immoral." Commonweal isn't alone in recognizing this distortion of Church teaching, which has always recognized the authority of government to balance private property rights with the "universal destination of goods." There is a silent majority of orthodox Catholics who resent Acton and other Catholic think tanks that are so well-funded by wealthy pro-big business donors that they're able to drown out genuine Catholic social teaching. Finn thinks its time that "neoconservative Catholics inquire into the influence of libertarianism on their work and, most importantly, that they make Catholic moral theology the standard for judging right-wing claims about morality in economic life-and not the other way around."

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(7) COMMENTS

By chassup AT 09.26.08 05:06PM

chassup

I think its time that liberal Catholics inquire into the influence of socialism on their work and, most importantly, that they make Catholic moral theology the standard for judging left-wing claims about morality in economic life-and not the other way around.”


By Dave AT 09.26.08 08:22PM

Dave

Great article. Spot on.


By Debra Murphy AT 09.26.08 08:32PM

Debra Murphy

This may well be true, but the opposition of two extremes do not a balance make, just as two wrongs do not make one right. Having read at least as much Ayn Rand as Karl Marx, probably a good deal more, I, for one, also think I can sniff the I-am-not-my-brother’s-keeper fragrance in too much “conservative” Catholic commentary. The notion that The Market is the infallible hand of God is a construction of theorists who may not believe in God and certainly don’t believe in the Fall, but it seems to have a lot of undue influence on many Christian believers.


By chassup AT 09.29.08 09:35AM

chassup

I, for one, also think I can sniff the socialist fragrance in too much “liberal” Catholic commentary. The notion that The Government is the objective arbiter of justice and mercy (infallible hand of God) is a construction of theorists who may not understand salvation history, and don’t grasp the necessity for personal conversion, but it seems to be a temptation for many Christian believers.


By eric AT 10.02.08 04:20PM

eric

Please, heresy?  For far too long the socialists have posited that their perverted interpretation of catholic social teaching is the only proper understanding.  The holier-than-thou attitude only makes it worse.

The social welfare state IS NOT compatible with catholic social teaching.  Period.  So please stop accusing those who disagree with your politics as being somehow heretical or un-Christian.


By chassup AT 10.02.08 04:57PM

chassup

The social welfare state has created a multi-generational slave class, has effectively convinced the black citizens of this country to kill a generation’s worth of their own children, and is currently scaring our citizens, especially our seniors, into allowing the government to take ownership of a huge part of our financial market (Centralization of credit in the hands of the state… Plank 5, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx). 

Federal entitlement programs are perpetually sold as in line with Catholic social justice, but no matter what the intention, the result is a path of destruction and injustice.  Political liberals have done this deliberately, in my opinion.


By allegoresis AT 01.23.09 11:10AM

allegoresis

I vividly remember Pope John Paul II’s willingness to confront both left and right in the light of the gospel—liberal and conservative are secular categories.  I would recommend that both sides in this argument re-read the judicious chapter on “Economic and Social Order” in Avery Dulles’ book on the theology of John Paul II, The Splendor of Faith, as a quick refresher course on this topic.


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