As an addendum to the Marxist claptrap, it’s interesting that it is Karl Marx that coined the term “capitalism” as a pejorative term to condemn wealth and foment class warfare. The capacity to motivate work and the reinvestment of profits constitute the driving force for the productivity of free enterprise. So against the confused and misled, it is wise to examine Christ’s teaching on using our talents, and on wealth.
Christ’s teaching on wealth and property
In his outstanding work Christians For Freedom, Ignatius 1986, p 43-47, (with a new edition, since), Dr Alejandro Chafuen has examined carefully the teaching of Christ and wealth. Citing the case of the rich young man in Luke 18:18-25, Dr Chafuen remarks that many authors think that Jesus was condemning the possession of riches, but “the Late Scholastics indicated that this was not the correct interpretation. Citing Luke 14:26, where Jesus says, ‘If any man come to Me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be My disciple,’ the Scholastics pointed out that this passage does not enjoin Christians to hate their fathers. Such doctrine would contradict the Fourth Commandment. Thomist and Scholastic interpretations of this passage is that the entrance to the kingdom of Heaven is denied to anyone who values things more than God. In Matthew’s Gospel (10:37), the same passage reads: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to Me is not worthy of Me.’ It would be a violation of the natural order to value a created thing above its creator, as did the young ruler who pursued riches as his ultimate goal.
“As is indicated in Luke (12:29-31): ‘you must not set your heart on things to eat and things to drink; nor must you worry. It is the pagans of this world who set their hearts on all these things. Your father well knows you need them. No; set your hearts on His kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well.’ Dr Chafuen notes that “many people close to Jesus were quite wealthy for their times. Joseph seems to have had his own business and perhaps a donkey; Peter owned a fishing boat, and Matthew was a tax collector. Jesus praised the rich man Zaccheus. It was the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea who kept faith even when the Apostles were beset by doubt (Mt 27:57). Jesus does not condemn the possession of riches but, rather disordered attachment to them.” Notice also that Jesus did not ask His Apostles to renounce their property.
Some misrepresent Acts 2:44-47, where the faithful lived together and owned everything in common. These so-called “Apostolics” were condemned by St Thomas and the Late Scholastics, who quote St Augustine. Why?
In his Summa, II-II, Q. 66, art. 2, resp., St Thomas quotes St Augustine: “Augustine says: ‘The people styled apostolic are those who arrogantly claimed this title for themselves because they refused to admit married folk or property owners to their fellowship, arguing from the model of the many monks and clerics in the Catholic Church (De Haeresibus 40).’ But such people are heretics because they cut themselves off from the Church by alleging that those who, unlike themselves, marry and own property have no hope of salvation.”
The Medieval Schoolmen who preferred to be called the “Doctors”, “were the foremost thinkers of their times.” (Op. cit. p 21). They employed logic and reasoning for the development of mankind. Chafuen incisively points out: “The Doctors offered utilitarian arguments to show that goods that are privately owned are better used than commonly owned goods. This explanation offers a budding theory of economic development: the division of goods and their ultimate possession by private individuals facilitates increased production.”
Free enterprise is not “greed driven” it is common good driven for the welfare of the greatest number and dependant on consumer satisfaction and competition, dependant on the laws of cause and effect involving God-given reason, and based on a standard social principle of Christ’s Church – subsidiarity.