Subtitled, 'Summaries of Papal Justice Encyclicals' this work has been produced by James Patrick Hynes. He feels the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is a sound reference for guiding the search for justice. He has served on the St. Vincent de Paul Society's Social Justice Committee and the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales Social Welfare Committee and its World of Work Committee.
The encyclicals place human beings, never capital and property, at the centre of things. They support trades unions; the right to strike; the rights of workers to manage and share profits; the state protection of citizens; responsible private ownership; equitable distribution of wealth; rights for refugees. They condemn the excesses of both capitalism and socialism but approve aspects of each in moderation. Unrestricted competition is censured. Racism is condemned. War is denounced.
In his encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est' (God Is Love) published in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves."
In Hynes view, the Church's social doctrine is not a 'third way' between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. It is in a category of its own, not an ideology but an accurate formulation of reflection on the complex realities of human existence as they conform to the Gospel in moral theology. As such, the person is put ahead of socio-economic and political systems. "Work, in the first place, is for the worker not the worker for work", said 'Laborem Exercens' (On Human Work).
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