Thursday, September 25, 2008


Commonweal is the last place I'd expect to find an article that I agree with, yet that is exactly what I've just found--an article on Fr. Robert Sirico in the September 26, 2008 issue.

Daniel Finn, who teaches economics and theology at St. John's University in Collegeville, has written an article on the "Libertarian Heresy: The Fundamentalism of Free-Market Theology" in which he discusses three of Sirico's premises, attempting to demonstrate why they are contrary to Catholic Social Doctrine.

He concludes with the following:

So has Fr. Sirico mixed libertarian heresy about human freedom into his Christian view of morality and law? I’ll leave that for him to reflect on. But it isn’t difficult to imagine how a person can be so committed to free markets and minimal government that he erroneously discerns an antitax message in Catholic moral theology, and thereby engages in the error biblical scholars call “eisegesis,” reading into someone else’s position what you want to find there.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no interest in squelching a much-needed debate about the proper balance of public and private action in how we fulfill our obligations to the needy. I would suggest, however, that neoconservative Catholics inquire into the influence of libertarianism on their work and, most importantly, that they make Catholic moral theology the standard for judging right-wing claims about morality in economic life-and not the other way around.

The entire article, which isn't long, deserves a read. If you read it, keep in mind that God was the originator of laws that restrain the individual in favor of others. We call them the Ten Commandments. And then there are the Beatitudes. If our social structure, including our laws and taxes, reflect these two messages from God the Father and Jesus Christ, is there any sane reason for Catholics to oppose them?

Read the article here.

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