Post by Admin on Aug 24, 2019 13:36:42 GMT
The Angelus - April 2010
Questions and Answers
Fr. Peter R. Scott
Fr. Peter R. Scott
Is capitalism to be condemned to the same extent as communism?
It is certainly true that the Church condemns both laissez-faire capitalism and communism, neither political system being according to Catholic principles. However, there is a profound difference, the former not being opposed to the natural law as is the latter, which was condemned as “intrinsically perverse” by Pope Pius XI in his 1937 encyclical on communism, Divini Redemptoris.
It was, in fact, before the publication of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, in his first encyclical, Qui Pluribus (1846), that Pope Pius IX identified and condemned the fundamental perversion of communism: “the unspeakable doctrine of Communism, as it is called, a doctrine most opposed to the very natural law. For if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone’s laws, government, property, and even of human society itself would follow” (§16). Archbishop Lefebvre comments:
Pope Leo XIII in his magisterial encyclical on the condition of the working classes, Rerum Novarum, condemned both excesses. However, not in the same way. After defending the right of ownership of private property as the foundation of human society, he has this to say of socialism:
It could not be better expressed. What is left of the rights of men in the countries where Communist governments have been established? There is no more property, it has been replaced by Collectivism. As for human society, it has been replaced by slavery. (Against the Heresies, p. 51)
He goes on to condemn the implacable class warfare engineered by communism as “abhorrent to reason and truth.”
The fundamental principle of Socialism which would make all possessions public property is to be utterly rejected because it injures the very ones whom it seeks to help, contravenes the natural rights of individual persons, and throws the functions of the State and public peace into confusion. (§23)
When it comes to capitalism, it is not the system of private ownership and profit that he condemns, nor the inequalities that exist among men:
To the contrary, it is not capitalism itself but rather the abuse of private ownership, so characteristic of modern-day capitalism, that the Church condemns. Pope Leo XIII lists some abuses, such as treating workers as slaves, or refusing to pay them a just, living, and family wage:
There are truly very great and very many natural differences among men. Neither the talents, nor the skill, nor the health, nor the capacities of all are the same, and unequal fortune follows of itself upon necessary inequality in respect to these endowments. And clearly this condition of things is adapted to benefit both individuals and the community… (§26).
He goes on to teach that the collaboration between workers and employers must go beyond simple questions of justice to a relationship of friendship, not bound by materialism, but considering that earthly gain of transitory things is but a preparation for eternity.
It is shameful and inhuman, however, to use men as things for gain and to put no more value on them than what they are worth in muscle and energy….To defraud anyone of the wage due him is a great crime that calls down avenging wrath from Heaven. (§§31, 32)
It follows from these considerations that capitalism is not condemned by the Church as intrinsically perverse, as is communism. It is a system of government and economy in which a man’s religious and natural rights can be preserved, even if this is not always the case in practice. The right to private ownership guarantees, at least to some extent, a man’s right to raise his family according to the natural and divine law, to support the Church, to practice the true religion, to educate his children, to profess the Faith, all of which rights are denied by the collectivism practiced by communism. If it is true that socialist tendencies penetrating more and more into our modern societies undermine these rights progressively, this is not in itself the consequence of capitalism. Consequently, the Church can use, and even “baptize,” the capitalist system in a way that it cannot do for communism. An industrialist, a businessman, a property developer can all be good Catholics, provided that they observe the principles of justice and charity contained in the natural law. It would consequently be wrong to consider capitalism as inherently unjust, or consider that the state has the right to intervene and distribute wealth equally amongst all the citizens.
However, this being said, it must be remembered that modern, liberal capitalism cannot be accepted as such. It does have to be baptized. It is penetrated by gross materialism; unjust and disordered motives of pure profit; a refusal to consider the primacy of the common good; and by the principle of man’s economic, moral, and social independence that is so characteristic of liberalism and that has destroyed the Catholic spirit ever since the Protestant revolution.
If Pope Pius IX points out that communism is the fruit of Freemasonry, Archbishop Lefebvre also explains the obvious–namely, that the opposing vice of capitalism is also the outcome of Freemasonry, and that they share a similar liberalism and materialism, although in different degrees and different ways:
With the capitalist economic system, which is the fruit of the French Revolution, the same people distilled the poison of this so-called freedom, because behind it–as the Pope says–were the secret societies. It was they who broke with every social structure that existed to protect the workers: the corporations, the guilds….All was broken at the time of the Revolution. The worker then found himself standing alone face to face with his employers; and at the same time unrestricted freedom was granted: “liberal” economy, freedom of trade, freedom of industry, etc. Clearly those who possessed money profited from the situation to accumulate immense fortunes at the expense of the workers, who found themselves defenseless….All these sufferings and injustices are the fruit of the modern errors…that had been propagated initially by the Protestants, and then by the Revolution: the liberal spirit, that gave total freedom to trade and industry, whereas before there had been rules. (Against the Heresies, pp. 317-18)
Let us not, then, be deceived either by collectivist or by capitalist propaganda. It is only by a profoundly supernatural spirit that we can begin to rebuild a Catholic social fabric. For it is not by redistribution but only by grace that the diabolical vice of liberalism can be rooted out of our souls, and that a private and unequal but just sharing in the goods of this world can prepare our souls, and our children’s souls, for eternity.
[Emphasis - The Catacombs]