Monday, January 18, 2016

Shall We Move Past "Sinful Structures"?

For at least two decades, Bishops and priests have been yammering about "sinful structures" in society which produce economic injustice.  It was always illogical (and dangerous for its seeming denial of personal sin), but the claim was that 'this is what the Church teaches.'

(We also have to put up with "social justice" which, frankly, cannot be defined.  That's the point, of course, but it is equally grating and nonsensical.)


We learn that John Paul II had written off "sinful structures" back in the day.

...Precisely because exploitation is rooted in choice and is not a necessity based on the structure of economic relations, John Paul is never anti-capitalist, per se. Indeed, an underlying subtext throughout the entire book is that a Marxist reading of almost anything in John Paul is grievously mistaken. (Writer Gregory Baum, who gives the documents such a reading, is repeatedly criticized.) For example, as Gregg sees it, John Paul distances himself from Marxism and some liberation theologies when, consistent with the Wojtyan view that persons are the proper subject of free moral choice, he stresses that the root of sin is personal sin and not “evil economic structures.” As Gregg states in brief, “from a moral-anthropological viewpoint, personal sin is at the root of problematic structures and perpetuates their existence.”...

There's more at the link concerning JPII's take on capitalism--which is NOT negative.  But he endorses it with the correct qualifiers:

...In Centesimus Annus, Wojtylan moral-anthropological thought is seen as providing the supporting foundation for capitalism understood as a system that “recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property, and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector” (no. 42). Indeed, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis vivifies the role of the capitalist entrepreneur with the spirit of the Wojtylan anthropology. John Paul states that there is a right to economic initiative for human subjects who must be permitted to exercise their freedom and creativity for self-realization and the common good. At the same time, the very same thought opposes capitalism as a “system in which human freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within the service of human freedom in its totality” (no. 42). As Gregg notes, “laissez-faire models remain unacceptable....

Note the distinction for JPII:  " unacceptable."

"Laissez-faire" capitalism does not really exist in the USA, but personal sin does.  Distinctions count, friends.


Anonymous said...

Someone isn't aware of the contributions of P. Deneen; the Schindler/Novak debate; the social magisterium of Benedict XVI; the Southern agrarian tradition, especially as exemplified by Wendell Berry; the critique of capitalism of the distributists; the economics of Chesterbelloc; or the political theology of either Augustine or St. Basil.

Distinctions, yes. Keep reading? Apparently that is in order.

Dad29 said...

Be serious. I know full well that Acton has its own perspective and that Chesterbelloc advocated 'distributism' as a better path than 'capitalism.' Further, you will find this blog's pages littered with quotations of Deneen.

The post made the case, perhaps not clearly enough, that "pure" capitalism is not extant in the US (nor in almost any corner of the West that I'm aware of.)

Having said that, I'll also observe that some folks are seemingly oblivious to the teaching which was rather clear: "The poor you will always have with you..." which affirms the OT's continuous cry for 'justice' which is not available in this vale of tears.

That is to say, one must be aware of the effects of sin--a point extremely clear in the quotation in this post.