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Amante, Kevin Q.

Essay 2
JD3 April 22, 2018

“Guiding Hands for the Future”

Catholic Social Teaching is centered on the idea that God has a plan for the creation of
a peaceful kingdom, a kingdom of love and justice. This plan also concerns all of us as it is
truly about the story of each person’s life. It is not just about how we spend our Sundays but it
concerns every being of our personalities. It touches not only on the superficial but on the very
essence of our faith in the Lord. Our part in the plan is focused on common good and our
relationship with all our brothers and sisters especially those of the poor. Catholic Social
Teaching is the papal reflection on how we move about in this plan of God.1

Catholic Social Teaching is based on what is currently happening. It revolves around


the plight of the people and how the people can solve the problem. It touches upon various
parts of our lives including our family life, labor and capital and the dignity of work, the
environment and many others that concern our daily lives that are directly connected to God’s
ultimate plan.2 It is the Church’s reply to the problems of the modern world and reaches the
depths of everyone’s soul so that we may rise and break the chains that binds us to such
problems. Hence, Catholic Social Teaching is the answer to the people’s cry for help in
connection with the Church’s duty to guide the people towards God’s saving grace.

As we have discussed above, Catholic Social Teachings arose from the plight of the
people towards various aspects of their lives. The Church sees this struggles and acts
accordingly. Rerum Novarum, an encyclical promulgated in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, represents
the earliest official articulation of the major tenets of modern Catholic social teaching. Pope
Leo’s letter addresses the plight of industrial society and sets for itself the task of defining “the
relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor.” Pope Leo
clearly recognized the need for social change to support exploited workers.3 During 1891, the

1
About Catholic Social Teaching: Accessed at:
http://www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk/principles/ Last Accessed: April 20, 2018.
2
Id.
3
John Schwenkler. Catholic Social Teaching. 2011
problem of Capitalism reared its ugly nature though exploitation of many laborers because of
the improper implementation of privatization. Hence, the Church derived ways in order to solve
the plight of men by looking for a harmonious balance between capital and labor.

Capitalism is infamously known as the economic and political system in which a


country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
With this description, it was infamous for causing the large gap between capital and labor, the
rich and the poor. However, according to Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch, capitalsm has a more
definite goal and definition. They said that capitalism consists in the calculated evaluation of
anticipated periodic returns, in the form of dividends or interest payments, and the equation of
those returns in terms of a present lump-sum of money. Such an interpretation of capitalism
makes possible a social-economic interpretation of the interstate, of insurance, of commodity
and security exchanges, of savings, of real estate "values," and of investment activities in
general.4 With this, we can readily see that in its conception, capitalism is more of an economic
principle to bring about efficiency in earnings rather than a view where in people are only seen
as labor by their employers. If capitalism was properly implemented during the 18th century,
the burden of the laborers back then would have been nothing but a moment in the fleeting
mind. Sadly, it was not, and the people did suffer grave disparity specifically the poor.

At the heart of Rerum Novarum, it teaches the idea that justice demands certain virtuous
forms of life from all members of society in order to attain a harmonious balance. Laborers are
to carry out their jobs honestly and diligently while employers are to respect the dignity of their
workers by paying them their just compensation and by providing humane working conditions;
the rich are to recognize that excess wealth should be given to those in need as God has
provided them; and the poor ought not look on their poverty, since honest labor is a good way
to please God and that they are the closest to God’s heart.5 Rerum Novarum also explained that
the State should be its partner in removing the shackles that bind the people in finding a
harmonious balance for the path of peace and tranquility.6

4
C. F. Taeusch. What is "Capitalism"?. 1935.
5
Supra Note 3.
6
Id.
The plight that Capitalism and Communism caused during the 18th century up to the
first quarter of the 19th century continued albeit, it was greatly reduced. The people also began
to develop new social structures in order to cope with the conditions of the society at the time.
It was then that collectivism arose.

Collectivism is the idea that men are mere gears that are responsible in turning the
machine to which it is a part of. In collectivism, each of us has no rights and that everyone must
sacrifice for the groups greater good. According to collectivism, the group or society is the
basic unit of moral concern, and each one of us is valuable only insofar as we serves the group.
In collectivism, man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. The society
in collectivism desires not to oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare,
and happiness are the prime considerations, all of its parts are of less importance.7

Pope Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno emphasizes the errors of
collectivism.” Collectivism fails to recognize property’s “private and individual character.”
Quadragesimo Anno emphasized that God never forbade privatization and it cannot be
correctly addressed as an evil since it is inherent within the nature of men to own things
privately. The common good dictates as a threshold of what is proper and what is the subject
of greed. What is perhaps most remarkable about Quadragesimo Anno is that Pius argued that
“free competition, when justified is certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits,
clearly cannot direct economic life.” Importantly, Pius also articulated what has come to be
known as the “principle of subsidiarity,” which holds that the supreme authority of the State
ought to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance.8

Centesimus Annus, issued by the late Pope John Paul II in 1991, is the most recent
official articulation of the principles of Catholic social teaching. In the course of offering a “re-
reading” of Rerum Novarum, John Paul reaffirmed many of its core tenets, noting especially
its teaching that “the more that individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they
require the care and concern of others, and in particular the intervention of governmental
authority.9 Centismus Annus was the current culmination of all the church’s teachings from

7
Craig, Biddle. Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice. 2014
8
Supra Note 3.
9 Id.
Rerum Novarum that are still applicable to the modern era. It is undeniable that the plight of
the workers back then are still present in today’s age. But it is also apparent that the conditions
are far better that what it used to be.

From the discussions, we can see the difference between capitalism and collectivism.
Capitalism entails that those of power or riches has the right to decide the particulars of our
society especially in labor. Since they have the capacity to own private properties and employ
the working class that is the bulk of the population, these men of power are deemed the powers
of the society and in turn, the laborers, the poor feel their worthlessness compared to their
employers. Collectivism runs as a direct counter to Capitalism in that people have no sense of
individualism, such that individuals are all equal and have no right except that which is
beneficial for the group as a collective. Hence, in Collectivism, there are no property which
one can own and that others cannot. But in a negative note, collectivism, deprives the people
of their right to be special in their own way which was held sacred by the Lord.

In a positive note, a combination of collectivism and capitalism is needed for a healthy


society. It is not a lie that both capitalism and collectivism were originally tailored for the
growth and development of the society. If the positives of both are to be incorporated in a single
idea, the society would undeniably prosper. In such a case, the society would allow
privatization just like in capitalism in order to promote the economy and the concept of an
individual but the rich has the duty to take care of the poor. Further, each of us should doing
their own part whilst knowing that each of us is equally important in the society as in
collectivism. If the ideas can be tailored to one that is similar, all the negatives that each idea
brought would be gone and the society would know rise to its golden age.

The Catholic Social Teachings were an important part of our history. The church held
the people together in times of need and assumed a position that corrected the errors of our
society by teaching us how to obtain harmony and peace during turbulent times. Capitalism
and Collectivism were originally tailored for the growth and the betterment of our society but
their implementation muddied their very own goals and objectives. The Catholic Social
Teachings sought to correct these errors together with the state just as has been taught in the
Catholic Social Teachings so that everything may, be in accord with the great plan of the Father.