Wealth and Poverty

John Paul II is often caricatured by people who disagree with some of the social stances of the Roman Catholic Church and by those who are predisposed against Christianity in general.  While there is much valid critique that can be levied against Catholicism, caricatures of John Paul II disregard his own courageous and forthright stands on justice.  John Paul II anticipated much of the economic and financial debacle we now experience.  His tempered and faithful voice provides essential counsel for our present political situation, in which all rational discourse, and all historical definitions for what it means to be “conservative” or “liberal,” have been thrown out the window.

What follow are excerpts from JP II’s “Private Property and the Universal Destination of Material Goods”:

“It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish…Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods, there exists something which is due to man because he is man…These objectives include a sufficient wage for the support of the family, social insurance for old age and unemployment, and the adequate protection for the conditions of employment…

…Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied…

…Profitability is not the only indicator of a firm’s condition.  It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people—who make up the firm’s most valuable asset—to be humiliated and their dignity offended…

…Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces.

…The Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation, which recognizes the positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to be oriented towards the common good.”

One thought on “Wealth and Poverty

  1. As a former Roman Catholic, who had difficulty with John Paul II’s conservative social views, I found his views on capitalism and private property quite intriguing. Although he does not have all the answers, he does pose some interesting questions to ponder. I would like to recommend the Rector’s class on Faith and Society to other parishioners as a great forum for discussion of topics like these. Personally, I would attend this seminar if it were offered again in the fall.

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