It is interesting that we have been presented with a gift of sorts. This writer stated in another place that Popes do not reveal their sources. In the case of Pope Benedict XVI, we have an indication from what intellectual tradition he approaches economic problems. In 1985, in a symposium in Rome entitled, “Church and Economy in Dialogue,” Cardinal Ratzinger (at the time) gave a talk, “Market Economy and Ethics.”[1] Looking at this document gives many insights into the approach he takes in Caritas et Veritatis. 

Ratzinger begins his talk by describing the economic state of the world in the same way as Pope Pius XI described the world in Quadragesimo Anno. To Ratzinger, the world is in terrible economic shape, especially when you consider the differences between the northern and southern hemispheres. He says that this situation poses such a threat “no less real than that “proceeding from the weapons arsenals with which the East and West oppose one another.” He states that all methods used to remedy the situation have been ineffective. In fact, according to the Cardinal, “the misery in the world has increased in shocking measure over the last thirty years.”[2] This is much too general a statement to make much of, but some checking of data leads us to question this assertion. Speaking of the southern hemisphere, in Latin America for the period to which he refers, the trend has generally been upward economically, despite some dips in some countries, and stalling in Haiti.[3] Africa, on the other hand, is illustrative. Northern Africa is developing well, but sub-Saharan Africa does poorly. But this is no mystery, and many economists have the solutions for this state of affairs, but hardly anyone listens.[4] The main point here is that the world was not doing as bad as Cardinal Ratzinger supposes. Some keys to his point of view come from the rest of the article and his admitted source.

Ratzinger says that following Vatican II, it was held that the separate disciplines had their own autonomy and should be allowed to operate according to their own laws. He seems to be saying that this idea was not developed by the official Church, but came from outside official channels. The problem with this notion is that Vatican II actually states this in a number of places.[5] And it is also true. Etienne Gilson once said that if you want to use chemistry for God’s sake, you must learn if for its own sake. But the Cardinal criticizes this. He takes the case of Adam Smith who, he says, believed that the market operates on its own and “moral considerations imposed on it from without.” The Cardinal says that according to Smith, “this position holds that the market is incompatible with ethics because voluntary ‘moral’ actions contradict market rules and drive the moralizing entrepreneur out of the game.” But Smith holds no such thing. Adam Smith was a professor of moral philosophy, and prior to writing The Causes and Consequences of the Wealth of Nations, he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In the latter book, we see Smith on the cutting edge of a phenomenological idea of morality based on empathy.[6] Empathy can only take place between human beings because we share a common nature. In addition, Smith obviously assumes moral behavior on the part of the actors. The whole free market economy is based on trust, and it very short-sighted to ignore this obvious fact. Moral actions do not contradict market rules, they are the foundation of successful market functioning. When people are immoral in their actions, the market gets skewed. No one in their right mind, economists included, thinks that Bernie Madoff is the ideal market participant. Law itself, going way back to English common law, has prohibitions against fraud, outright deception and coercion. It is said by business experts that on average a customer who does not get treated well in a store will tell over 40 people about the experience. Those folks will tell others, and on and on. Why? Top of the list is moral outrage in not being treated according to the dignity that one deserves. After this comes the desire of the offended person to warn others about the offending place of business. In both these cases, both morality and the laws of economics operate as a check on the entrepreneur, who is punished but shrinking sales. It is very likely, unless the merchant in question was just having a bad day, he has treated others like this, or presented them with faulty merchandise or bad service and the like. This means that the reputation of the place of business will be blackened. 
 
But let us take this one step further. Cardinal Ratzinger reveals his source of this thinking—Peter Koslowski. Peter Koslowski is a philosopher who is primarily interested in propagating the discredited German Historical or Romantic School[7] of economics. Most of the references in Cardinal Ratzinger’s speech are from works by Koslowski. He quotes Koslowski: “The economy is governed not only be economic laws, but is also determined by men . . . .” Not only is this statement so obvious it is laughable, but it also reveals an ignorance of economics which is astounding. Ratzinger sees free market economists as picturing the market in a purely mechanical way: “[I]t is deterministic in its core. It presupposes that the free play of market forces can operate in one direction only, given the constitution of man and the world, namely, toward the self-regulation of supply and demand and toward economic efficiency and progress . . . . man is completely controlled by the binding laws of the market.” He also asserts that these economists hold that the forces of the market always work for the good, despite the morals of the individual participants. 
 
Nothing can be further from the truth. What Cardinal Ratzinger probably has in mind is the methodology of the neo-classical economists, whose use of mathematics creates more of an engineering-like economics rather real world economics. Some years ago this writer heard a lecture by an Austrian school economist who quoted a neo-classical economist who admitted that the neo-classical economists were more in love with their mathematical models than with economics to the extent that they frequently do not care if the models reflect reality. Even so, economics is a science because there are regularities the behaviors of the vast majority of human beings such that we can with some accuracy gauge what the individual person will do under some specific conditions, ceteris paribus. The reason that economics is a separate science is that it studies human action, especially in the fields of exchange (but not always).[8] People generally do what they think betters their conditions, and will act accordingly. Ethics is a separate science from economics because it deals with a different aspect of man. It is a science of the acts of the deliberative will of man as they are ordered to his ultimate end—happiness. Aristotle tells us that all men choose the good, meaning that no one intentionally chooses an evil as evil. Men go wrong when they choose an apparent good rather than a real good. It is the job of moral science to direct man to choices that bring him closer to that ultimate end. It is the job of the science of economics to tell us what men do, not what they should do, and to show what actions and choices will bring us a better material conclusion. Ultimately, both sciences, moral and economic, focus on the human person. Both are part of the practical reason. Moral science tells the person which actions bring him closer to his end, economic science has the more modest end to showing him how the world works so that the can take of his material needs, so that he can move on to better and higher things, like education and charitable acts.  Man is not a disembodied spirit, but acts with his whole being, thus the necessity of acting in the world that exists, but never unethically. Economists never say that a person is allowed to act unethically in the real world. They do say that people do act unethically. They also show that sometimes those unethical actions have deleterious repercussions in the world of business. 
 
Studies have shown that the two most religious type of persons in the United States are, aside from clergy, military personnel and business executives. Is it likely that the percentage of unscrupulous persons in business is higher than in other fields, such as medicine, sports, law or the clergy? Not likely, if you believe with St. Thomas that we share a common nature. If you are a German Historical School economist, you have nominalist tendencies[9] and do not believe in a common human nature, and believe that everything is historically and culturally conditioned. Hence, like Rousseau, you believe that evil is caused by external, societal forces. Therefore, the tendency of these German thinkers to blame the free market system for the evil actions of men in the system, and the economic decline that the west is currently experiencing.
 
Such thinking is not defensible from the Catholic or the scholastic point of view. All persons are obliged to develop the cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance in whatever situation they find themselves in. Moral failures are not caused by the system; immorality resides in the human heart.[10] 


------------------------------------------------------

[1]This talk appears in http://www.acton.org/publications/occasionalpapers/publicat_occasionalpapers_ratzinger.php?view=print. All quotations are taken from this version.
[2] Italics are the present author’s.
[3] See, http://oxlad.qeh.ox.ac.uk/results.php, accessed 10/29/09.
[4] See, James A. Dorn, Steve H. Hanke, and Alan A. Walters, The Revolution in Development Economics (Washington, D. C.: Cato Institute, 1998, and the very full bibliographies at the end of each chapter; and Edward L. Hudgens and Bryan T. Johnson, “Why Asia Grows and Africa Doesn’t,”http://www.heritage.org/Research/AsiaandthePacific/lg756.cfm, accessed 10/29/09.
[5] See, for example, Apostolicam Actuositatem, #7; Gaudiam et Spes, # 34 and #36.
[6] Compare with Edith Stein, The Problem of Empathy, trans. by Waltraut Stein (Washington, D. C.: ICS Publications, 1989).
[7]For a full discussion of the German Historical School and its romantic roots, see William R. Luckey, “Romanticism: The Ultimate Source of Misguided Views on Economics.” Unpublished manuscript.   See, also, Peter Koslowski, ed., The Theory of the Ethical Economy in the Historical School: Wilhelm Roscher, Lorenz von Stein, Gustav Schmoller, Wilhelm Dilthey and Contemporary Theory (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1995), andPeter Koslowski, ed., The Theory of Capitalism in the German Economic Tradition: Historicism, Ordo-Liberalism, Critical Theory Solidarism (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2000).
[8]See, Ludwid von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics Third revised edition (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1963), Introduction and chaps, I-VI.
[9][9]William R. Luckey, “The Intellectual Origins of Modern Catholic Social Teaching on Economics: An Extension of a Theme of Jesús Huarta De Soto” Austrian Scholars Conference, Auburn University, March 23-25, 2000.
[10]Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Washington, D. C.:United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005), sect. 117. 



 Comm
 
Some people treat Catholic Social Teachings in the same way that the Church treats revealed dogma—as mostly unchanging, but that there can be some expansion to our understanding of those revealed dogmas, but no change in Social Teaching. But Catholic Social Teaching has three aspects. The first is eternal principles. Catholic teaching of any kind has to be founded on eternal principles, or else there would be no solid foundation at all. In point of fact, beyond those eternal principles, especially justice, prudence and charity, the Church applies those eternal principles to changing circumstances, which means that the teaching changes. There is no such thing, for example, as pure justice. Justice must be applied to an actual circumstance. In addition, the Church, as Church, has no particular expertise or divine commission in the particular, non-theological sciences. This means that it accepts the opinions of scholars of the sciences prevalent at the time of the writing of an encyclical. Of interest to us is economics. As I have shown in many papers, for many years the Church accepted the conclusions of the German Historical School of Economics as its paradigm for understanding economic reality. That School is totally discredited, and slowly, but surely, popes have backed away from its worldview, despite the fact that many Catholics tend to quote past encyclicals like Protestants quoting “proof-texts” from the Bible to prove their anti-Catholic views.
 
There is no space here to go into the teachings of the German Historical School but here I would just like to demonstrate briefly the case for development with a few quotations.
 
Gaudiam et Spes of Vatican II:
            “It is necessary that the voluntary initiatives of individuals and of free groups should be integrated with state enterprises and organized in a suitable and harmonious way.”
 
This reflects Pius XI’s corporatist suggestions, originally propounded by the German Historical School.  Indeed, Pius saw competition as an evil:
[T]he right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. From this source . . . have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness or ignorance the social or moral character of economic life, it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority . . . free competition, while justified and useful provided it be kept within certain limits certainly direct economic life—a truth which the outcome of this application in practice of the tenets of this evil individualistic spirit has more than sufficiently demonstrated.” (Quadragesimo Anno)
 
But John Paul II shows the developing view of capitalism even during his own papacy:
 
In Laborem Exercens, he agrees with the Marxist and German Historical School’s understanding of Capitalism in saying that any system in which primary attention is paid to the “objective dimension of work,” where man’s status as “the effective subject of work and its true maker and creator” is not recognized, is capitalist.
 
In other words, any system in which the person is trivialized is capitalistic. Here, men are seen as mere means of production. Of course, this applies both to an approach to a free market and to socialism and communism as well. 
 
But more recently, he says new forms of capitalism have developed. Workers rights have been recognized, and where more worker control over aspects of productivity and aspects of the business have been recognized. 
 
In Solicitudo Rei Socialis, he recognizes the right of economic initiative and says that this right is not only important to individuals but for the common good. The attempt to limit this right in favor of so-called equality suppresses or destroys the spirit of initiative or “the creative subjectivity of the citizen.”
 
In Centesimus Annus, the Holy Father points to the complexity of the subject. Asking the reader if capitalism should be the goal of the countries recently freed from Communist domination, he writes:
 
If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy,” “market economy” or simply “free economy.” But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom and its totality and sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.
 
Pope John Paul II is right is expressing reservations here, but his reservations are not about the free market but the social context in which that market, or, quite frankly, anything else, operates. Everything in society functions in an environment of ethical/religious, political/juridical and economic reality. For the free market to work, there needs to be a moral society, backed up by revealed religion, and a system of just law, respected by the people and enforced justly by the courts. Economists have created a whole body of literature on the effect of institutions on economic life. If there is a problem with how the market operates, the first place to look is the society and the government. Obviously Pope John Paul II realized this. Now if only other Catholics would be as informed.
 
The following is my first post for my new blog.  It happens to be a chapter in the book I am working on.  I presented this at the Austrian Scholars Conference at the Lugwig von Mises Institute on May 13, 2008.  Here it is in it’s entirety:

In defending the free market against those who believe that the Church condemns such a thing, I have noticed that usually my opponents use what is called in some Protestant Biblical defenses a "proof-text" methodology. That is, my interlocutors take a sentence from an encyclical, remove it from all of its contexts – textual, historical and theological – recite it, and give it a "literal" interpretation; one which suits their side of the discussion.


Two examples come readily to mind. In defense of the idea that the Church "teaches" that for a state to be legitimate, the Catholic religion must be the official religion, they cite the following section from Leo XIII’ encyclical, Immortale Dei (1885), no. 6:

“Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its teaching and practice – not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion – it is a public crime to act as though there were no God. So, too, it is a sin for the State not to have care for religion, as something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be his will. All who rule, therefore, should hold in honor the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favor religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. “

To the merely casual reader, this certainly appears that Pope Leo is saying that you must have the true Faith recognized and enforced by the State. But a close reading and the political context reveal otherwise. 

For over a hundred years prior to the writing of this encyclical, the Church was under formal attack from governments of both Catholic and non-Catholic countries. Pope Pius IX thought that by issuing condemnations of these government actions and of the thought that inspired their actions the tide could be stemmed. So, Leo was dealing with an attempt to remove Catholicism from the current states. Catholicism was under attack in the French Third Republic (1870–1940) following the Dreyfus affair, and Bismarck had been attacking the Church through harsh anti-Catholic laws in Prussia starting in 1873. Leo’s teaching was very gentle, but clearly was an attack on anti-clericalism and the radical separation of church and state, especially as practiced in France and Germany at the time. There is no authoritative statement here about the legitimacy of government; merely a moral exhortation. All of what he says is correct, if it is interpreted properly: religion is healthy for the state; the state is supposed to protect it; Catholicism is the religion founded by Christ, and everybody has a moral obligation to follow the true religion. (This is perfectly consistent with Vatican II’s teaching on religious freedom.) There is no idea here that the state needs to force everybody to be Catholic, or that the Catholic faith must be the official religion of the realm. But of all religions, Catholicism, since it is the true one, must be protected.

The second example is drawn from a section of Pius XI’s encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, written in 1931. Pius writes in sections 105–108:

“In the first place, it is obvious that not only is wealth concentrated in our times, but an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands of a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing directors of invested funds which they administer according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure. “

“This dictatorship is being most forcibly exercised by those who, since they hold the money and completely control it, control credit also and rule the lending of money. Hence, they regulate the flow, so to speak, of the life-blood whereby the entire economic system lives, and have so firmly in their grasp the soul, as it were, of economic life that no one can breathe against their will.”

“This concentration of power and might, the characteristic mark, as it were, of contemporary economic life, is the fruit that the unlimited freedom of struggle among competitors has of its own nature produced, and which lets only the strongest survive; and this is often the same as saying those who fight the most violently, those who give least heed to their conscience. “

Is this authoritative teaching, or really the pope’s own view of current events based on his own economic paradigm, about which he has no necessarily unique knowledge? It is almost difficult to explain here the economic confusion in this section of the encyclical. In this case, managers of money cannot invest funds "according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure." All wealth has alternative uses, hence those with discretionary cash will invest it where they expect the most return. Managers of money, which by the way is not their own, must seek the highest return or be fired by the people who do own it. The highest return will come from the most sound investments – taking into account not only expected yield, but also risk factors. It would be like flushing someone else’s money down the toilet if they invested it "according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure." So, a man may be under pressure from his wife to invest in his brother-in-law’s hair-brained business scheme, but he would be crazy to do so. Competent money managers will not lend money to those who are not likely to pay it back. Of course, there are unforeseen events. This is why business people read papers like the Wall Street Journal, or the Investors Business Daily and the like. These papers help them see trends over which they have no control and of which they can take advantage, or avoid if necessary. So the laws of economics dictate where the money will be invested, not the arbitrary will of the managers.

In addition, one must ask oneself whether, unless one has an M.B.A., would one trust oneself to invest one’s money, or would one let it be invested by professionals? Does the Vatican invest its money? Yes. The Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See controls and invests most of the money belonging to the Holy See.

Be that as it may, the ghost author of the encyclical, Father Oswell Nell-Breuning, S. J., a German Historical School economist, was really railing about financial cartels in Germany. It is difficult to tell, however, if there were any money-lending cartels in Germany at the time of the Encyclical. In an extensive study, Professor Wilfried Feldenkirchen shows that there were many cartels in Germany since the late 1800’s, but does not mention any were in the financial or lending areas. The following graph certainly shows that the number of cartels in Germany expanded at an astounding rate from 1911 to 1926, when a decline began, but these were all industrial.

The industrial cartels were the natural outcome of corporatist theory which was pushed in Germany by the German Historical School economists, including Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., in the mid-1800s. In this case, what Pius XI is complaining about is that his own chickens have come home to roost, because later in the Encyclical, he would recommend such a corporative system. Mussolini, who took total power in 1925, installed such a system. Father Oswald Nell-Breuning, S.J., by his own admission the author of the Encyclical, actually expresses regret at using the term "corporatist" in the Encyclical because people (naturally) equated it with Mussolini’s system. Well, duh! In any event, Michael Novak discussed Pius’ and Nell-Breuning’s perspectives in Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions: Freedom with Justice, saying that, in their mind, the collapse of two big German banks and the stock market crash bears out Pius’ analysis of the brutishness of the market. 

What lessons can be drawn from this for the believer? These practical aspects of these encyclicals cannot be taken at face value merely because a pope writes them.

Firstly, since the popes rarely if ever refer to specifics as to what exact historical situations they refer and the countries in which they are occurring, verification is very difficult, if not downright impossible.

Secondly, the theory behind many of these assertions is frequently ideological, not real economics nor even theological. As such, as I have shown elsewhere, facts are manipulated to fit the ideological point. 

Thirdly, without going through every encyclical, it can be said that they have minimal value for guidance of Catholics, as opposed to other methods. At times it appears that every pope feels that he must issue one or more social encyclicals, or he is not doing his job. The presumption seems to be that problems at the social level require general discussion, guidance and condemnation. Various branches of a school of thought are lumped together and the least defensible branch is taken as typical and properly condemned with the rest of the school. Or, at times, mere human failings due to original sin are seen as part of a false philosophy, which needs to be attacked. 

The confusion in the method of writing social encyclicals is shown in the recent attempts to collect quotations from the encyclicals and arrange them according to topic. It becomes clear after a while that papal writings on social and especially economic questions began with an attempt to give guidance on particular situations as the Church authorities saw it at the time, given current resources, and ends up trying to establish, perhaps unwittingly, or at least some people trying to establish, a consistent "corpus" of social teaching. 

In this author’s opinion, this attempt has been at least a partial failure. One major reason is that in Social Teachings one is not generally dealing with revelation, but with applying eternal principles to concrete political, social and economic questions, in which the Church authorities have no special expertise outside of moral teaching itself, which is derived from natural law and Divine positive law. A case in point would be that it would be immoral for a company to fail to pay a worker the wage he was promised, but moral to pay him his actual discounted marginal revenue product. One tries in vain to recall a section like this in an encyclical. In addition, the Church looks at specific social, political and economic questions through the lens of the current state of the social sciences, or in the case of economics, up to the time prior to Centesimus Annus, through the eyes of the German Historical School. So, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno recommends a corporate state as a just economic order, but it was dropped like a hot potato from there on.

When dealing with revealed truths, truths which can be known only through God’s revealing them, it is admitted that there can be some development. John Henry Cardinal Newman, in his famous Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, responded to Protestant accusations that the Catholic Church actually invents doctrines. He showed that the Church can have new insights into revealed doctrines while the doctrines remain unchanged. He gave a number of rules which should be used to tell if a development of a doctrine is authentic. Newman’s theology of development was accepted by Vatican II. While Catholic Social Teaching surely has some of the elements of consistency that are similar to that in the doctrinal statements, the fact of the changing circumstances and the changing insights of the social sciences, not to mention the very real possibility of seeing social, political and economic problems through ideological glasses, make the development of a “corpus” of Catholic Social Thought problematic.

What is needed to resolve these dilemmas is an encyclical which bases its teaching on the foundational principles of Catholic moral theology, the 10 commandments and the Beatitudes, while abstaining from the acceptance of any (especially) economic theory per se.

The main elements of such an encyclical can now be suggested: 

1.      A brief theological and philosophical treatise of the nature of the human person. This treatise will take into account the developments over the last hundred years or so in Phenomenology and Personalism as developed by John Paul II and the Lublin School of Thomism. It would show man as a creature having reason and free will. He can discern the good with his reason and his will is truly free so that he can freely choose the good. It would recognize that his knowledge and choice of the good are tainted by Original Sin, which darkened his intellect and weakened his will, but also that many choices in life are not clear, and more often than is supposed, are not simplistic choices between good and evil, but between two competing goods of varying and possibly hidden values.

2.      Man is created with certain drives or impulses the satisfaction of which is supposed to produce human flourishing and are arranged in a hierarchy – the lower meant to serve the higher. If the hierarchy is violated, the human being is lead away from happiness and flourishing. So, the instincts of self-preservation, feeding, shelter, etc., are not valued for themselves but allow men to pursue higher-level ones, such as the desire for family, the respect of others, the need for a well-ordered relation with God, and happiness and admittance into the inner life of the trinity.

3.      But many of the choices we make are economic. These choices are the responsibility of the adult, who makes them ostensibly for his own flourishing. The Vatican II Decree on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, is an appropriate guidepost for this and is based on the dignity of the human person. The core of Dignitatis Humanae has never been thoroughly unpacked by anyone, and can be extended theologically to defend a free economy. The document states:

“Further, in dealing with this question of liberty the sacred Council intends to develop the teaching of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and on the constitutional order of society.” (Dig. Hum., # 1)

While the document discussed this subject in relation to religious liberty, which obviously is man’s greatest freedom, it never got around to the discussion of human rights in general and the constitutional order of society as it seemed to promise. The implication is that man must be allowed to discover religious truth without coercion; if man must be allowed to believe and practice the faith of their conscience without hindrance from anyone, whether public or private except as a matter of public order, he ought to be free to decide, again within the limits of public order, the other, lesser, things, which he believes lead to human flourishing, even if it is to his own detriment. This does not exclude the right of the church and others to guide, persuade and even morally condemn some choices, nor does it imply a moral approval of all choices. But just as in man’s search for religious truth, it must not be coerced choice. 

4.      Having said this, the Church has a duty and a right to give moral guidance to man’s choices, where morality is in question. Here is where this new document must take into account the developments in moral theology of the last hundred years or so, and are seen in the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor. In this latter document, the Pope states that "the morality of acts is defined by the relationship of man’s freedom with the authentic good." This good is established in man by Divine wisdom. (Ver. Spl., # 72, italics in original) In other words, the moral law is meant to bring man to the fulfillment of the hierarchy of existential ends which God placed in him for his flourishing and ultimate happiness. There is no carping in this encyclical about how the world is going down the drain as we see in so many past encyclicals, which are so worded, not because of eternal truths, but because the events of the times were so harrowing.

5.      Lastly, this new encyclical should focus on specifically moral aspects of social, political and moral actions in the same style of Evangelium Vitae, and avoid painting with too broad strokes. Popes need to remember, that painting with broad strokes opens the door to the enemies of true liberty, friends of statism, and anti-capitalism that many of us Catholic Austrian economists have had to bear with all these years.

In writing an encyclical in the style just outlined, the Church would be doing a pastoral service to aid the human flourishing discussed above and re-gain much of its credibility with, at least, economists.