Must Catholics Be Anti-Capitalists?
Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy,
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
book on Catholic social teaching surpasses any other book ever published
in this genre. Rather than merely recount what has been said, he
subjects the corpus to a relentless examination in light of Austrian
School economics, highlighting contradictions and missteps, while
praising the good. Even for those not particularly interested in
Catholic teaching, this book is an outstanding elucidation of economic
science in light of moral concerns. He covers wages and labor, money
and inflation, trade and the division of labor, entrepreneurship
and development, and the meaning of a range of concepts such as
price and value.
interest is Professor Woods's primary target: not so much the social-gospel
left but the Catholic right, which argues against free enterprise
and laissez-faire with surprising intensity. By taking on these
critics of the market, as versus easier leftist targets, he has
set for himself the most difficult task of providing a corrective
concerning economics to those who are most attached to Catholic
teaching on faith and morals and yet are dogmatically attached to
various forms of government intervention allegedly designed to shore
up morals and faith. He shows that market economics is not contradicted
by binding Catholic teaching but rather supported by it.
is as skilled an interpreter of Mises, Reisman, Rothbard, Menger,
Hayek, and others as he is of Leo XIII, Pius X, Pius XII, Paul VI,
and John Paul II. His reading of the relevant documents stretching
back more than a century and his careful explanation of their status
as official teaching is a model of fairness and disciplined commentary.
He avoids the error of filiopietism that too often afflicts such
efforts, but neither does he dismiss the moral concerns that underlay
such social teaching. The result is a book that will offer a continuing
challenge to anti-market moral theorists on the right and left,
and anyone who claims that economic science should be ignored or
otherwise dismissed in light of higher ethical priorities.
2006 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute