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Papal Infallibility and Catholic Socialism

Jeff Tucker and Tom Woods had excellent criticisms of The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a document Monday, calling for a world economic authority and condemning the “idolatry of the market.” But were I still a devout Catholic, of the opinion that the Church was infallible when speaking through its pope ex cathedra, this would concern me. Sure, sure, this is not a statement by the pope himself, and is not ex cathedra. And infallibility relates to pronouncements concerning faith or morals. Yet what could be more related to morals than the political system that governs us, given the hundreds of millions of people murdered and billions more lives ruined by these wicked agencies? If God through his sub-wing the Holy Spirit supposedly intercedes to prevent the Church from speaking erroneously on such grave moral matters, why would He let it preach statism and socialism and economic confusion.

Hmm. It’s almost enough to make one doubt the Church’s teaching authority–and the whole religious shebang (Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, whatever).

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Jordan Viray October 26, 2011, 8:05 pm

    There are a lot of Catholics who argue for the infallibility of those papal encyclicals which come down hard on capitalism. However, when asked to prove that such documents are part of the ordinary universal Magisterium (one of the types of infallible teachings), they inevitably fail. Woods has written quite a bit on the topic I think.

    Nevertheless, if the pope were to solemnly declare Communism as Church dogma, then I’d call it quits.

  • Michael Barnett October 26, 2011, 8:10 pm

    BOOM! Headshot!

  • Jock October 26, 2011, 9:00 pm

    I was thinking that in a couple of years’ time when I have to do my undergraduate dissertation, I might try and do a free market perspective critique/analysis of Rerum Novarum, which I think is still the closest thing the Vatican has to a proper political-economy “policy document”. Whilst not declared to be infallible (the other qualification for such a pronouncement in fact being infallible as far as the church is concerned) it has at least the authority of having been a Papal encyclical and not the musings of some department of state at the Vatican.

    I’d find it quite odd if the man appointed to continue the work of John Paul II and his antagonism to communism having lived through it in Poland would endorse a state socialist economic outlook.

    They’re probably just thinking of resurrecting Banco D’Ambrosiano and doing a bit of rent-seeking promotion first 🙂

  • Rui Botelho Rodrigues October 27, 2011, 7:38 am

    Dear Stephan,

    your critique (more like sneering, but nonetheless) only applies to christianity (because only christians believe in the separation of G-d in three “wings”, as you put it), and also to non-rationalist religious people, who believe G-d actually interferes directly in the world – which is nonsense. and furthermore, it is mostly a critique of any religion who has a central authority such as the Pope and that, as such, almost requires obedience and agreement with everything coming from the central authority. In that way, your critique does not “make one doubt” the “religious shebang” of deist jews or muslims (and only in part does it for deist christians).

  • August October 27, 2011, 11:31 am

    You’d think so, but then this Church is made up of humans, a distinct subsection of which are bureaucrats. Bureaucrats are messing up everything! Based on the same logic, you’d have to stop believing in practically everything. Is there a power structure on Earth that isn’t infested with these parasites? Take energy production, for instance. The green tech subsidies weakening your belief in electrons?

  • Jim October 29, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Jesus once said, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

    The Church now apparently views its purvey beyond its simple rendering to Caesar, and proposes that Caesar’s share should be enlarged in scope and authority.

  • Stephen R. October 30, 2011, 9:00 pm

    As a point of clarification, the Roman Catholic Church does not define Christianity nor does it represent the “Church”. The Roman Catholic Church is only one of many Christian denominations.

    The reason that I mention this, is that the Roman Catholic Church got to write the history books. Consequently, the “truth” that most people from Western Europe get, is that published by the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately, those in Eastern Europe, who are mostly Orthodox Christians were suppressed by Islamic expansion and then Communism. Whether those in Western Europe will recognize the Orthodox Christian community as existing on the same level as the Roman Catholic Church remains to be seen.

  • Pope Francis I April 23, 2013, 4:46 pm

    “Hmm. It’s almost enough to make one doubt the Church’s teaching authority–and the whole religious shebang (Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, whatever).”

    Wow, a papal encyclical that extols state assistance to the poor and the rights of the worker would be enough to make you reject religion and the existence of God? It’s true what the say–the free market orthodoxy is a religion, and to you and your ilk, the superlatively dogmatic religion in world history.

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