Anthony Esolen, in an on-going series in Crisis Magazine, ponders Catholic Social Teaching, as presented by Pope Leo XIII. Esolen says that Pope Leo’s rich view of humanity arms us today in not only promoting the free market, but in combating the meager thoughts proposed by socialism and liberalism.
How does Leo XIII do this? By truly understanding the human person.
Human beings are embodied rational souls, and everything they touch they mark with the fire of their spirit, the gift of God. That is the ground of their right to property. But they are not solitary atoms either, rebounding against one another in a chaotic war of all against all. For the human soul is made for love, and can only attain its end by communion with other souls. Therefore, long before we meet the State, we find human beings fashioning not artificial but real bodies in turn: families and clans and villages. It is absolutely crucial to understand this.
Catholic Social Teaching affirms the reality of the bodies that human beings form; they are not notional, but real and living, and they imply real rights and duties among the members, who are themselves not mere parts, but whole persons. [emphasis original]