Toward a More Human State
of Economics | Br. Gabriel Torretta, OP | Catholic World Report
Maciej Zięba's book, Papal Economics, offers the right questions (and some good answers) about Catholic social thought
When Pope Francis was first elected on March 13 of this year, some of the early media reports about the largely unknown Argentine cardinal painted a dire portrait of a man with shadowy connections to a military dictatorship, a man whom rumor described as conspicuously silent during the government-sponsored murder of priests preaching liberation theology. But in recent days, in the wake of the compelling interviews with America and La Reppublica, many of these same voices have discovered a new Pope Francis, one who is tolerant, open-minded, anti-establishment, and perhaps even supportive of some forms of the liberation theology he was once accused of persecuting.
Readers of papal encyclicals on politics and economics, broadly called Catholic social thought, often walk away with a similarly double image: commentators on John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra, John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus, and Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate have claimed and counter-claimed each document as a certain and final victory for democratic capitalism or state-run socialism, depending on the commentator’s predilections.
Asking the Right Questions
All too often, questions about the Church’s politics end up like the trompe-l’oeil images that vex freshman philosophy students. Is it a duck or a rabbit? An old lady or a young girl? Is Pope Francis a fascist or a Marxist? Is Catholic social thought capitalist or socialist? Is it all in the eye of the beholder?
These questions do not have a satisfying answer because they are the wrong questions.