Father Peter Preble, pastor of St. Michael Orthodox Church, and Stephen Kokx, adjunct professor of political science and RenewAmerica.com columnist, both recently reviewed Rev. Robert Sirico’s new book Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
Fr. Preble says the book changed his outlook on how to treat the poor. He refers to the third chapter and highlights the book’s emphasis on asking new questions:
The most striking of the chapters has to be chapter three, Want to Help the Poor? Start a business. Fr. Sirico tells the story of working in a soup kitchen during his days of seminary and coming to the realization that this system may in fact be hurting more than it is helping. By not asking questions, and feeding everyone, are we in fact hurting the local economy, this is just one of the questions I have not only after the Acton Institute but after reading this book. Are we doing the right thing?
Kokx says of the book, “What Fr. Sirico has provided us with is an insightful defense of why the market economy is the best economic system for mankind.”
Also noteworthy is Kokx’ column on social justice, which quotes Rev. Sirico and attempts to return to the original definition of social justice:
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation.” Social justice rightly understood is not a code word for communism, as Glenn Beck once proclaimed. Although he was right to demonstrate how the phrase itself has been hijacked by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, social justice within the Catholic faith actually means something entirely different.
Ryan Messmore, a Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, clarifies this confusion by reminding us of its original meaning. “Today,” Messmore writes, “political activists often use the phrase ‘social justice’ to justify government redistribution of wealth.” However, Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, the ninetheenth- century Jesuit Italian priest who coined the phrase, prefaced the word justice with social in order to “emphasize the social nature of human beings” and “the importance of various social spheres outside civic government.” Social justice to Taparelli entailed a “social order in which government doesn’t overrun or crowd out institutions of civil society such as family, church and local organizations.”
Catholic scholars like Michael Novak and George Weigel have attempted to recapture Taparelli’s definition by framing debates about social justice around subsidiarity and religious freedom, but many Americans have been conditioned to view social justice as something that needs to be avoided, partly due to the efforts of F.A. Hayek’s The Mirage of Social Justice and groups like the Chicago based White Rose Catholic Worker.
The entirely article makes a strong case for a reclamation of social justice and is certainly worth reading.