Today’s late-night post is a podcast appearance by Catholic writer and economist Tony Annett, whose book Cathonomics: How Catholic Tradition Can Create a More Just Economy (Georgetown University Press, 2022) seeks to address economic inequality and injustice by applying the principles of Catholic social teaching.
In the podcast, Tony discusses the book, Catholic Social Teaching, and his own faith journey.
Here’s a partial transcript, as Tony goes through the principles covered in his book (edited for clarity):
What I try to do is go through the series of amazing social encyclicals written by popes, starting with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891, all the way through Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti in 2020.
I tried to distill a set of principles that would ct as commonalities between those rather diverse encyclicals, written in very different times for very different circumstances. But nonetheless, I think you can actually distill a lot of principles. I’ll just mention some of them. (I don’t want to go on too long because I list 10 of them in the book.)
The first principle is obviously the principle of the common good, and that’s the idea that we will the wellbeing of the other person for the other person’s sake. This is very different from neoclassical economics, which says you only seek economic growth. But a true understanding of the common good means that you need to provide for the needs of people in society and you can’t leave anybody out.
That’s crucial – you can’t leave anybody out. Everybody has to be included in the common good. That’s related to the second principle, which is integral human development, which really comes from Pope Paul VI. It’s the idea that you want to foster the development of every person and the whole person, and you want the fullest development possible for people in all dimensions in life.
It’s not just about making money. It’s not just about accumulating wealth. It’s more of a sense of vocation. It’s a sense of being more rather than having more. Again, that differs quite substantially from the way economics has developed because economics assumes that you’re homo economicus – you are the rational economic man who’s out to maximize your preferences, which is really defined as “stuff you can buy with money in the market.”
So this is a very different idea of development, a very different idea of the purpose of human life.
Then related to that, we also have a principle called integral ecology.
This goes to Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ – His wonderful, beautiful, remarkable, encyclical on the environment. It says that we are part of nature, and how we affect nature in turn affects how we impact other human beings. So if we disrupt the natural balance, we end up disrupting the social and ecological balance in human society too.
Pope Francis says, “We need to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
The next principle is the principle of solidarity, which you know is a pretty common term, a well-worn term, as Pope Francis puts it. But it means something quite simple. As Pope John Paul II put it, it’s the idea that we are really all responsible for all.
It’s kind of a superhighway to the common good, and – again – it says that you need to take care of every single person in your society, and also in the whole world.
Listen above (or wherever you listen to podcasts) to hear the whole thing. The deacons discuss how pleasant Tony’s Irish accent (seasoned by years of living in the US) is to listen to, so you don’t want to miss out!
Click here to get the book!
Image: Adobe Stock. By tverkhovinets.