Monday, February 16, 2015

Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching

As indicated in a previous post, most reviews I have seen of Anthony Esolen's book Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press ) have been extremely positive. There was one exception which I also noted. After finishing the book, I am convinced that the negative reviewer either didn't read the entire book or was so looking for certain information outside the scope of the book, that he missed the point.
Many who write about Catholic Social Teaching (CST) are seeking to promote a specific interpretation of CST, i.e. Distributism, agrarianism, relief of the poor, criticism of (or justification of) capitalism, or justification of the welfare state.
But Dr. Esolen is starting back at the beginning. He draws heavily not just from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, but many of his other writings on marriage, the family, and the Eucharist. This is not to say that Pope Leo XIII's writings are the beginning of CST. Dr. Esolen argues that CST has a long tradition-going back to Christ in the Church. Pope Leo is taking the time to restate it and flesh it out in the light of a world in political and industrial revolution.
Dr. Esolen does not propose an economic "third way" between Capitalism and Socialism, but defines the right relations between man and God, the family, community, employer/employee, and the State.
Thus, the economy (in the right sense) is concerned with the family not industry and investors. The State (in right relation) is in service to the family, not a policeman of the family.
Before I began reading the book, the word in the title "Reclaiming" misled me to think I was going to read a detailed plan to apply CST. Instead, I got a better understanding what CST actually is. Thus the "Reclaiming" is a reclaiming of our understanding of CST. It is not a political or economic (in the commonly understood sense) agenda. However, it is a plan in the sense that a true understanding of CST should inform our response. 

And in the final analysis, Dr. Esolen does give a plan-the same plan which is the solution to all our individual and world problems-Christ, especially Christ in the most Holy Eucharist.
Highly recommended! Thanks Dr. Esolen for this effort.
Oremus pro invicem!


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