Why Catholics don't understand market economics?


I am listening to the “no calls” labor day presentation between Sy and Fr. Hugh, God Bless you both. However, I am dismayed at the notion that Catholic Social teaching simply trumps well-developed theory about market economics - as if theology and philosophy simply trump economic theory. For example, Father laments stagnant wages - there are many reasons for that which have little to do with markets, but markets simply get the blame. Since the 1970’s the family composition and role has changed - with more women entering the workforce, the supply of labor tends to outgrow the growth of available work in many fields, which tends to depress wages. So a more germane explanation is the role of the family, not market economics, something the Church is an expert on. And alas, there is no mention of how very misguided Keynesian economic theory distorts markets in all areas, including labor rates and the distribution of wealth and income in the economy. But if they knew economic theory, they might say that, but the fact that they don’t, well, they don’t, and that is a problem. CA is great for a lot of Catholic info and teaching, but I am afraid that if you want to understand economics in a Catholic or Christian sort of way, go to the Acton Institute. Thanks! God Bless, Jim


Priests and theologians tend to be trained in philosophy and theology, not economics. As such, if you’re looking for economic theory from them, then you’re looking in the wrong place.

On top of that, Christianity isn’t really a religion about economics. Yes, there are those who attempt to make it about economics, but in my experience, those doing so start out with an economic system that they like and then cherry pick Bible passages, removed from context, in order to support their economic ideals. As a result, you get a religion that appears to support everything from Laissez-faire capitalism to anarcho-communism.

If anything, Christianity seems like a horrible religion to go to for economic theory, because Christianity is very explicitly not concerned about monetary prosperity. There just isn’t a whole lot of sense in giving to the poor with no expected return, not even positive recognition, from an economic or business perspective. Even those who argue for their preferred economic systems based on a “Biblical understanding of human nature” tend to be focusing on the parts of human nature that the Bible says we shouldn’t be indulging, such as selfishness.

It’s often left me wondering how much sense there is in being both a Christian and an economist, since the thought processes seem so different. At the very least, that’s the impression I got when I took economics.


The heart of Christianity is God’s abundant grace and Jesus’ sacrificial love. None of which make economic sense.


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