97 – I don’t believe that I have said anything not found in the Church’s social teaching


The tale is told that once upon a time in Spain, the poor quality of the meals offered at wayside inns got to such a point that the guests, before tucking in, would say the verse: “Si eres cabrito, mantente frito; si eres gato, salta del plato” – which loses its rhyme in translating as: ‘If you are a goat, continue roasted; but if you are cat, hop out of my plate!’ This humorous ‘spell’ probably never worked, but it did originate a typical Spanish saying: dar gato por liebre – ‘to pass off a cat as rabbit’. The idea is quite simple: given that rabbits have a very close resemblance to cats, an unscrupulous innkeeper might succumb to the temptation of making profit by offering an inconvenient feline as prime roast hare! The saying is used to describe the malicious wile of those who offer goods and services of dubious quality as if they were the genuine article, under the facade of the most rigorous legality.

Does this situation have any application in the domain of ideas and doctrine? This is a question that comes to mind forcefully, and with increasing perplexity, when we analyze the ensemble of Francis’ teachings with regards to Private Property and Free Market, the poor, and the Social Doctrine of the Church.

May each one judge on their own if these concerns which trouble us are well-founded, because the last thing we would like to do to our readers is ‘to pass off a cat as rabbit’!

“Millions of people suffer and die from hunger”

The solution: a socialist agrarian reform?

In his intervention in the First World Meeting of Popular Movements on October 28, 2014, Francis gave uncommon support to the advocates of Socialist agrarian reform who were present:

The other dimension of this already global process is hunger. When financial speculation manipulates the price of food, treating it as just another commodity, millions of people suffer and die from hunger. At the same time, tons of food are thrown away. This constitutes a genuine scandal. Hunger is criminal, food is an inalienable right. I know that some of you are calling for agrarian reform in order to solve some of these problems, and let me tell you that in some countries – and here I cite the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – ‘agrarian reform is, besides a political necessity, a moral obligation’ (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, §300) It is not just me saying this, it is in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Please carry on your struggle for the dignity of the rural family, for water, for life, and so that everyone can benefit from the fruits of the earth. (Address to the participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, October 28, 2014)

Two important points to be emphasized

Regarding these important words, certain aspects require emphasis:

I – “Hunger is criminal”, “food is an inalienable right”

Venezuelan ration card




TUNA one can small can      
FLOUR unavailable     unavailable          
MILK   ½ Litre unavailable     1 Litre    
EGGS ½ dozen 1 dozen      
OIL 1 Litre               ¼ Litre      
BISCUITS unavailable        
RAZOR BLADES unavailable until further notice      
TOILET PAPER 3 rolls 5 rolls      
SANITARY NAPKINS 1 package ½ package      
DETERGENT unavailable             1 small bag      

In the first place, Francis does not specify which are the countries where millions suffer and die from hunger. Does he perhaps refer to the thirty million Venezuelans who are victims of the Chavez-Maduro dictatorship, submerged in the worst crisis of scarcity of provisions in the history of their country, and already notified by Maduro that they should exchange their ration cards for a new digitalized system for the purchase of food products ? (Infobae (Spanish) – BBC English). Without a doubt, digitalization is a great sign of progress…progress in the iron grip of the control and inspection of the security corps of the bolivarian socialist regime.

(Univison, August 21, 2014)

Or is Francis perhaps referring to the ten thousand unfortunate Cubans who truly suffer hunger and extreme poverty, as declared by Archbishop Bruno Masaró when he was Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba, until the first months of 2015?


(Martinoticias.com, August 24, 2014)

Confirming the declarations of Archbishop Bruno Musaró, the UN, through the World Food Program, has presented to Cuba a program for fighting against hunger – euphemistically called “support to food security” (sic) – by which seven provinces of the island will benefit, Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Las Tunas, Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo. It is the ‘Country Program’ which will apply in the period from 2015 -2018 (Diary of Cuba, August 25, 2015).

If ‘hunger’, in Francis’ words, ‘is criminal’, and ‘food is an inalienable right’, why, in his journey to Cuba (September 19–22, 2015) did he not make any allusion to this ‘crime’ to which Cubans have been submitted on a daily basis for already half a century?

More accurate information about hunger in the world

Going back to the address that Francis gave to the members of ‘Popular Movements’, we believe that no one would consider it superfluous for the Bishop of Rome, speaking of a problem that involves technical issues, to at least present a report or a specialized study about the problem of hunger affecting the world. Actually, his categorical affirmation: ‘Millions die from hunger’, stated in a public address that should tend to add something to the Magisterium, requires adequate proof. Are there countries with a food deficit? Which are these countries? What are the causes of this deficit? How many millions of people die of hunger? Were these ‘millions of people’ calculated on the basis of daily, monthly or annual statistics? As we can see, so many questions, once asked, arouse much concern, and demand exact and satisfactory answers. Despite the fact that Francis didn’t provide any study or specialized report on the topic he broached, it is noteworthy that Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in its last report – published precisely in Rome in 2015 – partially answers these questions.

We say ‘partially’ because the UN report, entitled ‘Food Insecurity in the World, Meeting the 2015 international hunger targets: taking stock of uneven progress,’ analyzing the countries and areas affected by prolonged hunger crises, does not present data, nor statistics with regard to the ‘millions’ of human beings who ‘die of hunger’ (FAO report).

The forgotten famished…

In the light of this specialized technical report, what are we to think of Francis’ opinion about the hunger problem?   With regards to his first affirmation: ‘Millions of people SUFFER from hunger’, there’s no doubt about it. Since the population of Cuba and Venezuela are 11.2 million and 30.4 million respectively, subtracting all the workers of the government agencies responsible for maintaining these dictatorships, we already have 40 million brothers and sisters suffering from hunger.

But with regards to the second affirmation, which is serious because of its moral consequences: ‘millions DIE of hunger’, what to think of the FAO report that does not allude to such a mortality rate?

Could it be that the social statisticians and economists who prepared the FAO report were lacking in scientific and technical exactitude? Who would dare to affirm something so categorically and critically without facts to support their judgment? Therefore the key question that should be asked is: Do demographic studies analyzing the problem of hunger as causing ‘millions of deaths’ exist or not? If they exist, what agency or center of studies carried them out? Are these studies reliable from a technical and scientific point of view? What is the data collected to determine the causes of this tragedy in humanity?

Until these studies are presented, unfortunately there will always be mysteries regarding Francis’ categorical statements: Where do the millions die? How many millions are there? When did they die? What caused the hunger that caused their death?

The sad truth about hunger: its real causes

Although the specialists of the FAO in their above-mentioned report do not speak of ‘millions dead by hunger’, they do objectively mention a tragic happening: a famine that resulted in the deaths of more than 250, 000 people in Somalia alone between 2010 and 2012. The cause of the famine? “Natural disasters and conflicts” (page 38). Regarding this aspect it is important to recall that the specialists of the FAO indicate as the principle causes of food insecurity affecting certain countries two important factors. On one hand, violent conflicts and political unstability (pages 38-39), and on the other hand, natural disasters (page 40).

Among the countries identified in 2012 as having prolonged hunger crises are: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe (see note 58).

Consequently, these two factors, indicated by the report of the FAO, are causes of the food insecurity, the negative effects of which create “environments in which a significant proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to death, disease and disruption of livelihoods over a prolonged period of time” (page 37). This analysis does not coincide with the one and only cause of death pointed out by Francis in his address to the Popular Movements. Let’s not forget that, in his opinion, it is simply the financial market: “When financial speculation manipulates the price of food, treating it as just another commodity, millions of people suffer and die from hunger.”

Considering that Francis, on one hand, kept silence about the misery that Cubans have been suffering for more than five decades, fruit of socialism, we ask whether hunger is or is not “criminal”, and whether food is “an inalienable right”? On the other hand, since he did not demonstrate in an unquestionable way his opinion about the cause that provokes “millions of deaths by hunger”, let each one judge for himself. Is it valid to ask ourselves the famous question found in the title of this study?

II – The agrarian reform which Francis demands versus agrarian reform favored by the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC)

A second point to be highlighted is regarding Francis’ ‘acquaintances’. Let us recall that in the address we are analyzing, Francis declared:

“I know that some of you desire an agrarian reform as a solution to some of these problems.” [Which is to say, the] “millions of people who suffer and die from hunger.”

Note: Who are the people who are close to Francis? Considering the ensemble of 86 organizations that participated in the First World Meeting of Popular Movements, without a doubt the group with the most ‘drive, dedication and thirst for justice’ was the MST – Movimento sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement) of Brazil. Their revolutionary conquests in their ‘curriculum vitae’ total: 2,500 (illegal) occupations of land, 7.5 millions of hectares of land occupied, and 900 camping grounds (source: movimientospopulares.org). They are successes that would make just as proud Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, as Ché Guevara, Chávez, the Castro brothers, Maduro, Evo, etc.

stedile_papa-890x395Francis greets Stedile during the I Meeting of Popular Movements. Rome, October 2014

The leader of this movement, Joao Pedro Stedile, member of the organizational committee of the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, should be pleased with this papal mention that so clearly supports his faction, which stirs up the masses in various rural areas of Brazil. The Marxist ideology which inspires Stedile and his fight for the realization of a socialist agrarian reform was amply demonstrated in a previous study that we posted (click here). Just as an update, let’s take a look at this other document form 2012: (Video)

Francis then added:

“And let me tell you that in some countries – and here I cite the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – ‘agrarian reform is, besides a political necessity, a moral obligation’ (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, §300).

Has Francis read the whole Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CDSC)?


It is suggestive that once again we encounter an affirmation that requires some clarification. Furthermore, as we can see, the very citation used by Francis goes against his own argument. Number 300 of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, cited by Francis, actually does refers to agrarian reform. However, reading the document cited by the Compendium – and which Francis probably either did not read or did not wish to read entirely – points towards two important topics. These are far from and contradict the ideological principles on which is based the classical Socialist agrarian reform, and which is defended by the ‘Popular Movements’, specifically by the members of the MST- Brazil who gleefully listened to Francis’ address, and who now must feel especially encouraged to continue with their criminal activities…with the Pope’s support!

1) The CSDC promotes private property

No. 300 of the CSDC cites the document ‘Towards a Better Distribution of Land. The Challenge of Agrarian Reform’ (23 November 1997), no. 13, by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This item explains how in developing countries, concentration of land ownership involves certain structural problems that it is necessary to resolve:

  • legislative deficiencies and delays regarding both recognition of land titles and in relation to the credit market
  • a lack of concern over agricultural research and training
  • Neglect of social services and infrastructures in rural areas

2) The CSDC promotes the opening of markets and to the benefits that globalization offers

The same no. 300 of the CSDC citing in no. 35 of the above-mentioned document, concludes that agrarian reform is (as Francis cited): ‘a moral obligation more than a political necessity’.
However, the document concludes:
‘Since the failure to enact such reform is a hindrance in these countries to the benefits arising from the opening of markets and, generally, from the abundant growth opportunities offered by the current process of globalization’.

Therefore, no. 300 of the CSDC (on referring to numbers 13 and 35 of ‘Towards a Better Distribution of Land…’) promotes private property and at the same time an agrarian reform that has as its objective to take advantage of the benefits derived from ‘the opening of markets’, which is to say, the commercial transactions of goods or services, as well as, from the abundant growth opportunities offered by the current process of globalization.

Is that right? The market… Francis’ bête noire!!!

The CSDC: not a manual of idealogical warfare, but rather defends the free market…

In other words, no. 300 of the CSDC read in its entirety, promotes an agrarian reform based on prívate initiative, insisting on the juridical and economic favoring of the rural land owner. At the same time, it encourages the land owner to obain profit and grow economically….(a calamity for the so-called Popular Movements!) And worst of all, according to the ‘demonic’ structures of private capitalism, in other words free market and globalization.

In effect, the socialist agrarian reform promoted by the ‘Popular Movements’, (especially by the MST-Brazil, since it is a group with Marxist ideology), promote communitarism which denies any private economic growth. Following the Cuban model, the socialist state is the only land-owner, and the only owner of goods produced – in short, the worn-out Capitalism of the State. Is this what Leo XIII taught in his Encyclical Rerum novarum when he gave origin to the Social Doctrine of the Church? Was it a socialist economy that all the later Popes called for? Is communism what is taught by the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church?With all due respect, and with no intention to offend, perhaps Francis should read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, because what is written there does not coincide with his teachings, no matter how much he may insist that it does, as he did in a recent in-flight press conference on his way to the United States. Or are we being taken for a ride and receiving cats as rabbits?



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

I – The Social Doctrine of the Church is born of its unchanging and unchangeable doctrine
II – The Social Doctrine of the Church does not depend on ideologies. It is opposed to class struggle, and Communist doctrines

I – The Social Doctrine of the Church is born of its unchanging and unchangeable doctrine

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

In the Church’s social doctrine, the Magisterium is at work in all its various components and expressions - this obligates the faithful to adhere to it

In the Church’s social doctrine the Magisterium is at work in all its various components and expressions. Of primary importance is the universal Magisterium of the Pope and the Council: this is the Magisterium that determines the direction and gives marks of the development of this social doctrine. This doctrine in turn is integrated into the Magisterium of the Bishops who, in the concrete and particular situations of the many different local circumstances, give precise definition to this teaching, translating it and putting it into practice (cf. Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 3-5). The social teaching of the Bishops offers valid contributions and impetus to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. In this way, there is a circulating at work that in fact expresses the collegiality of the Church’s Pastors united to the Pope in the Church’s social teaching. The doctrinal body that emerges includes and integrates in this fashion the universal teaching of the Popes and the particular teaching of the Bishops. Insofar as it is part of the Church’s moral teaching, the Church’s social doctrine has the same dignity and authority as her moral teaching. It is authentic Magisterium, which obligates the faithful to adhere to it (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2037). The doctrinal weight of the different teachings and the assent required are determined by the nature of the particular teachings, by their level of independence from contingent and variable elements, and by the frequency with which they are invoked (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis, 16-17, 23). (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 80, May 26, 2008)

Pius XI

The Social Doctrine of the Church comes from the desire that the unchanged and unchangeable teaching of the Church meet the new demands more effectively

It is not surprising, therefore, that many scholars, both priests and laymen, led especially by the desire that the unchanged and unchangeable teaching of the Church should meet new demands and needs more effectively, have zealously undertaken to develop, with the Church as their guide and teacher, a social and economic science in accord with the conditions of our time. And so, with Leo’s Encyclical pointing the way and furnishing the light, a true Catholic social science has arisen, which is daily fostered and enriched by the tireless efforts of those chosen men whom We have termed auxiliaries of the Church. They do not, indeed, allow their science to lie hidden behind learned walls. As the useful and well attended courses instituted in Catholic universities, colleges, and seminaries, the social congresses and ‘weeks’ that are held at frequent intervals with most successful results, the study groups that are promoted, and finally the timely and sound publications that are disseminated everywhere and in every possible way. (Pius XI. Encyclical Quadragesimo anno, nos. 19-20, May 15, 1931)

Pius XII

The Social Doctrine of the Church is based on Natural Law and on the Law of Christ, therefore it has no need to be retouched

It will be asked today of a Church which affirms it is a standard elevated above the nations, what is its contribution for the construction of social order. The Catholic Church can, without presumption, affirm that in the course of her history she has given an enormous contribution to the perfection of social life; and historical investigation gives witness to this for already some time. In fact, the Church does not close her eyes to the abysmal social disorders that the era of technology and capitalism has fomented. She has not thought she could resolve the social question of her own accord. She can, however, show, and with her head held high, the values she has prepared and that she has ready to resolve them. One of these points is, precisely, her social doctrine, which is based, even in its smallest details on natural law and on the law of Christ. The social doctrine of the Church has given proof of it, showing itself to be greatly fruitful, and this occurs particularly among you in Germany. There is therefore, no necessity to retouch, in its essential points, the social doctrine. It remains as it is, in full vigor. The Church has always emphasized that to form a solid social order it is not sufficient to look to the material conditions, rather it is necessary, in addition, to cultivate the mentality: that is to say, direct the conscience toward a vision of order and moral strength that is absolutely valid, so as to always operate in conformity with the conscience. (Pius XII. Message to the German Katholikentag, Acta Apostilicae Sedis 48, pg. 624-625, September 2, 1956)

The principles of the Catholic Social Doctrine are the most conformed to the natural and supernatural life of the human being

The number of those who take part in your Confederation would of itself be enough to prove its importance and to qualify it as the professional organization that is most powerful in this field. Since it contributes more that 60% of the agricultural production, how could it fail to influence amply in the social life of the country? For this reason, We are pleased to congratulate you, so much more so, to the measure that you carry out your labor with the purpose to put into practice the principles of the social Catholic doctrine, which are the most conformed to the exigencies of natural and supernatural human life, and lead to seeking a solution to the problems that are constantly brought forth by the rapid economic evolution and the general conditions of human society. In this way, respecting due order and the institutions, you contribute with the patient effort of every day, to the construction of a world that is less arduous, less impregnated by materialism and less enslaved by the persistent angst to seek a purely egoistic interest. (Pius XII. Address to primary cultivators, Acta Apostoicae Sedis, 47, pg. 497, April 19, 1955)

Catholic Social doctrine is a sure guide to achieve order, peace and tranquility in the relations between the various social classes

But the difficulty in this mission in your case finds an incomparable support and an unbreakable pillar in the maturity, in the amplitude, in the solidity of the Catholic social doctrine which, drawing on the evangelical principles and always taking into consideration the fundamental premises of morality, no less than the inalienable rights of the human person, may always serve you as a sure guide along your difficult way. And with what confidence should a doctrine, whose excellence in practice we see every day, at least by the tremendous consequences brought on by forgetting it or willfully desregarding it! And wholly futile would it be to to seek tranquility, peace and order among men, as long as this order, this peace and this tranquility do not begin in the very interior of the nations and especially in the relations between social classes. (Pius XII. Address to the industry technicians of Barcelona, September 6, 1956)


The encyclical Rerum Novarum: an outstanding instance of charity in the Social Doctrine of the Church combining the precepts and practice of mutual love

Small wonder, then, that the Catholic Church, in imitation of Christ and in fulfilment of His commandment, relies not merely upon her teaching to hold aloft the torch of charity, but also upon her own widespread example. This has been her course now for nigh on two thousand years, from the early ministrations of her deacons right down to the present time. It is a charity which combines the precepts and practice of mutual love. It holds fast to the twofold aspect of Christ’s command to give, and summarizes the whole of the Church’s social teaching and activity. An outstanding instance of this social teaching and action carried on by the Church throughout the ages is undoubtedly that magnificent encyclical on the christianizing of the conditions of the working classes, Rerum Novarum, published seventy years ago by Our Predecessor, Leo XIII (Acta Leonis XIII, XI, 1891, pp. 97-144). (John XXIII. Encyclical Mater et Magistra, no. 6-7, May 15, 1961)

Paul VI

The Church, founded on the Redeemer’s love, has a social doctrine that spreads the the truth of the gospel so as to shed light on all areas of human activity

The Church’s policy? This is it, in the words of the Second Vatican Council: ‘The Church, founded on the Redeemer’s love, contributes to the wider application of justice and charity within and between nations. By preaching the truth of the gospel and shedding light on all areas of human activity through her teaching and the example of the faithful, she shows respect for the political freedom and responsibility of citizens and fosters these values… It is always and everywhere legitimate for her to preach the faith with true freedom, to teach her social doctrine, and to discharge her duty among men without hindrance. She also has the right to pass moral judgments, even on matters touching the political order, whenever basic personal rights of the salvation of souls: make such judgments necessary’ (Gaudium et Spes, 76). (Paul VI. Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps, January 10, 1972)

The Church professes and teaches a stable and sure doctrine which emanates from God Himself

Modern man has greatly augmented his knowledge, but not always in the solidity of his thought, not always in the certainty of possessing the truth. On the other hand, here is precisely the distinguishing characteristic of the teaching of the Church. The Church professes and teaches a sure and stable doctrine. Meanwhile we should remember that the Church, before being a teacher, is a disciple. She teaches a doctrine that is sure, but a doctrine that she herself had to learn previously. The authority of the teaching of the Church does not emanate from wisdom of her own, nor of scientific and rational control over what she preaches to her faithful; but rather from the fact that she announces a word that emanates from the transcendent Thought of God. This is her strength and her light. What is the name for this incomparable transmission of the Thought, of the Word of God? It is called faith. (Paul VI. General audience, August 2, 1978)

John Paul II

The Social Doctrine of the Church has a twofold dimension: constancy, for it remains identical in its inspiration, principles and directives; new, because it is adapts to the changes in historical conditions

In this way I wish principally to achieve two objectives of no little importance: on the one hand, to pay homage to this historic document of Paul VI and to its teaching; on the other hand, following in the footsteps of my esteemed predecessors in the See of Peter, to reaffirm the continuity of the social doctrine as well as its constant renewal. In effect, continuity and renewal are a proof of the perennial value of the teaching of the Church. This twofold dimension is typical of her teaching in the social sphere. On the one hand it is constant, for it remains identical in its fundamental inspiration, in its ‘principles of reflection,’ in its ‘criteria of judgment,’ in its basic ‘directives for action’ (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, Libertatis Conscientia (March 22, 1986), 72; Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens (May 14, 1971), n. 4), and above all in its vital link with the Gospel of the Lord. On the other hand, it is ever new, because it is subject to the necessary and opportune adaptations suggested by the changes in historical conditions and by the unceasing flow of the events which are the setting of the life of people and society. (John Paul II. Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, no. 3, December 30, 1987)

Benedict XVI

Charity, which is the synthesis of the entire Law, is at the heart of the Church’s Social Doctrine

Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36-40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones). (Benedict XVI. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, no. 2, June 29, 2009)

The Social Doctrine of the Church is the proclamation of Christ’s love in society

This dynamic of charity received and given is what gives rise to the Church’s social teaching, which is caritas in veritate in re sociali: the proclamation of the truth of Christ’s love in society. This doctrine is a service to charity, but its locus is truth. Truth preserves and expresses charity’s power to liberate in the ever-changing events of history. It is at the same time the truth of faith and of reason, both in the distinction and also in the convergence of those two cognitive fields. Development, social well-being, the search for a satisfactory solution to the grave socio-economic problems besetting humanity, all need this truth. What they need even more is that this truth should be loved and demonstrated. Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present. (Benedict XVI. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, no. 5, June 29, 2009)

The Social Doctrine of the Church argues on the basis of reason and natural law: it aims to purify reason and to attain what is just

Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just. The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. (Benedict XVI. Encyclical Deus caritas est, no. 28, December 25, 2005)

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church helps to perceive the rich wisdom that comes from the experience with God, with Christ and from sincere acceptance of the Gospel

The commitment to build the city needs consciences that are led to God by love and for this reason are naturally oriented to the goal of a good life, structured on the primacy of transcendence. ‘Caritas in veritate in re sociali’: I thus felt it appropriate to describe the social doctrine of the Church (cf. ibid., n. 5), in accordance with its most authentic root — in Jesus Christ, the Trinitarian life that he gives us — and, with its full force, it can transfigure reality. We are in need of this social teaching, to help our civilizations and our own human reason to grasp all the complexity of reality and the grandeur of the dignity of every person. Precisely in this regard, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is a help in perceiving the richness of the wisdom that comes from the experience of communion with the Spirit of God and of Christ and from sincere acceptance of the Gospel. (Benedict XVI. Message to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, November 3, 2010)

II – The Social Doctrine of the Church does not depend on ideologies. It is opposed to class struggle, and communist doctrines

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

The Social Doctrine of the Church does not depend on the different cultures or ideologies. It is not conditioned by history nor runs the risk of fading away

It shows above all the continuity of a teaching that refers to the universal values drawn from Revelation and human nature. For this reason the Church’s social doctrine does not depend on the different cultures, ideologies or opinions; it is a constant teaching that ‘remains identical in its fundamental inspiration, in its principles of reflection’, in its ‘criteria of judgment’, in its basic ‘directives for action’, and above all in its vital link with the Gospel of the Lord’ (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 3). This is the foundational and permanent nucleus of the Church’s social doctrine, by which it moves through history without being conditioned by history or running the risk of fading away. (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 85, May 26, 2008)

Pius XI

Catholics who leave much to be desired in the social-economic field do not sufficiently know the teachings of the Popes on these questions

To give to this social activity a greater efficacy, it is necessary to promote a wider study of social problems in the light of the doctrine of the Church and under the aegis of her constituted authority. If the manner of acting of some Catholics in the social-economic field has left much to be desired, this has often come about because they have not known and pondered sufficiently the teachings of the Sovereign Pontiffs on these questions. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to foster in all classes of society an intensive program of social education adapted to the varying degrees of intellectual culture. It is necessary with all care and diligence to procure the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church, even among the working-classes. The minds of men must be illuminated with the sure light of Catholic teaching, and their wills must be drawn to follow and apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious fulfillment of their manifold social duties. Thus they will oppose that incoherence and discontinuity in Christian life which We have many times lamented. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, no. 55, March 19, 1937)

The Catholic Press can promote the Social Doctrine of the Church by denouncing the enemy, and warning against the insidious deceits of the communists

In this renewal the Catholic Press can play a prominent part. Its foremost duty is to foster in various attractive ways an ever better understanding of social doctrine. It should, too, supply accurate and complete information on the activity of the enemy and the means of resistance which have been found most effective in various quarters. It should offer useful suggestions and warn against the insidious deceits with which Communists endeavor, all too successfully, to attract even men of good faith. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, no. 55, March 19, 1937)

The Social Doctrine of the Church maintains a constant equilibrium of truth and justice, far removed from the errors of communists and the parties that follow them

This doctrine is equally removed from all extremes of error and all exaggerations of parties or systems which stem from error. It maintains a constant equilibrium of truth and justice, which it vindicates in theory and applies and promotes in practice, bringing into harmony the rights and duties of all parties. Thus authority is reconciled with liberty, the dignity of the individual with that of the State, the human personality of the subject with the divine delegation of the superior; and in this way a balance is struck between the due dependence and well-ordered love of a man for himself, his family and country, and his love of other families and other peoples, founded on the love of God, the Father of all, their first principle and last end. (Pius XI. Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, no. 55, March 19, 1937)

Pius XII

The social program of the Church fights not to foment class struggle, but rather to guarantee to workers a secure and stable condition

If we must boast, we will say with Saint Paul (2Cor 11:30), who can show a social program which is so solidly founded, so rich in content, so vast and at the same time so proportionate and just, as the Catholic Church? Who, since the proletariat of industry exists, has combated as has the Catholic Church in a loyal fight for the defense of the human rights of workers? In a loyal fight: because it is the action to which the Church feels obliged before God and by the law of Christ; in a loyal fight, not to foment class struggle, but rather to guarantee to the group of workers a secure and stable condition, which other classes of people already enjoyed, so that the working class would take part in the social community with equal rights, similar to the other members. (Pius XII. Allocution Assai numerose, Acta Apostlicae Sedis 37, p. 215, August 15, 1945)

He who intensifies social tension and abandons the solid basis of clear principles does not serve peace, but rather augments the disorientation of already confused intelligences

In times such as ours, in which errors are easily transformed into catastrophes, a Christian politician cannot – today, less than ever – intensify the internal social tensions, dramaticizing them, neglecting the positive points and allowing the true vision of what is reasonably possible to be lost. Tenacity in the application of the Christian social doctrine is demanded of him, tenacity and confidence, greater than that which the enemies demonstrate in their errors. If the Christian social doctrine, for more than a hundred years, has developed and become fruitful in the political practice of many peoples – unfortunately not of all – those who arrive too late have no right to lament that Christianity has today left some breach in the social field, which, according to what they say, should be filled by a revolution of the Christian consciences, as they call it. The breach is not in Christianity, but in the minds of the accusers. Being as it is, the Christian politician does not serve the internal peace, nor consequently the external peace, when he abandons the solid basis of objective experience and of clear principles, and becomes a sort of charismatic herald of a new social land, contributing to augment the disorientation of the intelligences, already confused. (Pius XII. Radio message for Christmas, no. 17, December 24, 1953)

The exploiters of class struggle deceive by depicting the Catholic Church as an enemy of the disinherited of this world – in reply, true Christians cannot deviate one single step from the path of the Church’s Social Doctrine

To you, especially, is directed the invitation to collaborate without reserve in the advent of a public order which brings about, in a measure that is as high as possible, a healthy economy and social justice, in such a way that the exploiters of class struggle be deprived of the possiblility of enticing the disillusioned and disinherited of this world, depicting the Christian faith and the Catholic Church under the aspect not of an ally, but of an enemy. By disposition of Divine Providence, the Catholic Church has elaborated and promulgated its social doctrine. It shows us the sure path, and no fear of losing temporal goods or benefits, of appearing less enthusiast of modern culture, or less patriotic or less social, could authorize true Christians to deviate, even one single step, from this path. (Pius XII. Address to the Sacred College of Cardinals, June 2, 1947)

To safeguard themselves from deception, workers should examine if programs are in accord, or contrast, with the principles of Christian social doctrine

To the farmers, as to all workers, there continually arrive suggestions and programs of all kinds from different quarters, such as to confound their ideas, in such a way that they often are unable to distinguish what is just from injustice, what is upright from avarice, liberty from slavery, in a word, their true well-being from generalized ruin. In what way can you escape from such wiles, and distinguish truth from falsehood? There is only one way: make sure if these programs are in accord, or on the contrary, contrast, with the principles of Christian social doctrine. This is, in effect, the steadfast touchstone, which deserves the full confidence of the honest worker, because it is the result of the most ample vision of reality; it is based on the order established by God, manifest by nature; it is apt to safeguard the dignity of the person, as the beginning and the end of human relations; it does not bend to unilateral class interests; it respects the just hierarchy of values; it does not sacrifice one good for another, but rather tends to harmonize them all in justice and love. While affirming, then, the rights, while putting forward the needs, and while perfecting the programs of your class, strive to not distance yourselves from the spirit of that doctrine, from which you can learn what are the duties, but also the rights in a well-ordered society. (Pius XII. Address to the participants of the Tenth Congress of the National Italian Confederation of Primary Agricultural Workers, April 11, 1956)

Paul VI

The Church indicates the sure way to distance oneself from deceitful illusions of false doctrines, destructive of upright human and social life

It is for Us a great motive of joy to know that the episcopate, the Clergy and the Laity belonging to Catholic Action and to the Cursillos de Cristiandad are studying a way to contribute to a solution to the present crisis. And we are aware that, in the last years, you have given life to praiseworthy activities, socials, inspired on the Social Doctrine of the Church proclaimed by Our predecessors in the Roman pontificate. We bless, therefore, with all our heart, the studies that with true effort and proven seriousness you carry out, with an identical end, in the new Catholic University of Santiago de los Caballeros, of great hopes, and arisen with the promise of good success, under the very title of the fundamental Encyclical Mater et Magistra, of the Supreme Pontiff John XXIII, of venerable memory. Have the certainty – and instill it in as many as doubt – that the Church, depositary of a message of salvation for all, the message that Christ the Lord confided to her, desires to offer her services with a lively understanding of the conditions of your situation, of your problems, so as to indicate to you the sure way to be followed to find the peaceful solution in Christ: ‘The way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6), distancing yourselves from deceitful illusions with which the false doctrines and the destroyers of upright human and social life could dazzle you. (Paul VI. Message to the people of the Dominican Republic, June 17, 1965)

John Paul II

Class struggle, the occupation of land, and public or private buildings, do not originate in the Social Doctrine of the Church

It is up to you, venerable Brothers, as the hierarchy of the people of God, to promote the quest for new solutions that embody a Christian spirit. A vision of the economy and social problems in the perspective of the Church’s social teaching, never fails to lead us to consider things from the standpoint of human dignity, which transcends the play of purely economic factors. Moreover, it helps people understand that to obtain social justice, more is required than the simple application of ideological schemes originating in the class struggle, such as the occupation of land, which I already criticized during my Pastoral Visit of 1991, and of public or private buildings, or, to quote one example, the adoption of extreme technical measures which could have far more serious consequences than the injustice they are intended to overcome, such as in the case of a unilateral failure to fulfil international obligations. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of Brazil from the South Regions III and IV on their ad limina visit, November 26, 2002)

The Social Doctrine of the Church is a source of unity and peace in dealing with the conflicts which inevitably arise in social and economic life

The Pope’s approach in publishing Rerum novarum gave the Church ‘citizenship status’ as it were, amid the changing realities of public life, and this standing would be more fully confirmed later on. In effect, to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church’s evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour. This doctrine is likewise a source of unity and peace in dealing with the conflicts which inevitably arise in social and economic life. Thus it is possible to meet these new situations without degrading the human person’s transcendent dignity, either in oneself or in one’s adversaries, and to direct those situations towards just solutions. (John Paul II. Encyclical Centesimus annus, no. 5, May 1, 1991)

As it is based on Jesus Christ, the Social Doctrine of the Church cannot be presented as an ideology or ‘third way’ like other political and social proposals

Beginning with Jesus Christ, man’s only salvation, it is possible to show the universal value of our Christian faith and anthropology and their importance in every aspect of life. In Christ, the human being is offered a specific, individual and supportive interpretation of his reality, open to transcendence.Starting precisely from this anthropology, the Church’s social doctrine cannot be presented as an ideology or ‘third way’ like other political and social proposals, but precisely as a specific moraltheological knowledge that originates in God and is communicated to man (cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis, n. 41). In this mystery it finds the inexhaustible source for interpreting and guiding human events. The new evangelization, to which the whole Church is called, must therefore fully integrate the Church’s social doctrine (cf. ibid.), to be in a better position to reach and question the European peoples in the concrete context of their problems and situations. (John Paul II. Address to the participants in the European Congress on the Church’s Social Doctrine, no. 2, June 20, 1997)

The social doctrine of the Church excludes class struggle, which incites new forms of slavery, as foreign to the Gospel

The social doctrine of the Church inspires the Christan praxis in its noble struggle for justice, but it excludes, as foreign to the Gospel programmed class struggle which incites new forms of slavery. This social doctrine teaches that odious discriminations with regard to work that men and women can do and to their just remuneration should not be created. But it also teaches that a just family salary should permit the woman who is a mother to dedicate herself to her irreplaceable tasks of care and education of her children, without being obliged to seek outside of home a complementary remuneration to the detriment of her maternal functions, which should be socially reassessed for the good of the family and of society. (John Paul II. Meeting with the people living in the barrios of Bogotá, Colombia, in the Park of El Tunal, no. 5, July 3, 1986)


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