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Questions and answers from DOCAT

on Sunday, 01 January 2017. Posted in Catechism

DOCATIn our August/September 2016 issue, we announced the release of a catechism on the social doctrine of the Church, in question-and-answer form, called DOCAT, with a foreword written by Pope Francis who was calling for young people to be the apostles of the social doctrine, to change the face of the earth.

We would like now to mention a few questions and answers from DOCAT related to economics, and add our own comments, in italics, taken from a book we have published, called “Economic Democracy, the Social Credit Proposals  viewed in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” This is the textbook we use during our study sessions in Rougemont:  

Q. 22: Why does the Church have a social doctrine?

Human beings are profoundly social creatures. Both in heaven and on earth man is dependent on community. Back in the Old Testament, God gave his people humane regulations and commandments by which they could lead a life that is just and good. Human reason can distinguish unjust actions from the just deeds that are necessary to build a just social order. In Jesus we see that justice is fulfilled only in love. Our present-day notions of solidarity are inspired by Christian love of neighbor.

Q. 23: What are the purposes of social doctrine?

Social doctrine has two purposes:

1. To set forth the requirements of just social action as they appear in the Gospel.

2. In the name of justice to denounce social, economic, or political actions and structures whenever they contradict the Gospel message.

The Christian faith has a clear concept of the dignity of man, and from this concept it derives certain principles, norms, and value judgments that make a free and just social order possible. As clear as the principles of social doctrine are, they still must be applied again and again to current social questions. In applying her social doctrine, the Church becomes the advocate of all people who for very different reasons cannot raise their voices and, not infrequently, are the ones most affected by unjust actions and structures.

Q. 24: Who determines what the social doctrine of the Church is?

All members of the Church, according to their particular tasks and charismas, participate in the development of social doctrine. The principles of social doctrine have been spelled out in important Church documents. Social doctrine is an official “teaching” of the Church. The Magisterium of the Church – meaning the Pope and the bishops in communion with him – repeatedly instructs the Church and mankind about the requirements for just, peaceful, and social communities.

Q. 158: What do we mean by “economic activity”?

By economic activity we mean the area of our social interactions in which people provide for their material needs and for those of their follow human beings. Economic life therefore involves the production, the distribution, and the consumption of goods and services.

Q. 159: What is the goal of economic activity?

The goal of economic activity is to supply us with all the material things that we need in order to live. The resources for this purpose – raw materials, machines, land and soil, human labor, for example – are limited. Therefore we must create economic arrangements; in other words, organize economic activity in such a way that these limited resources are used as efficiently and reasonably as possible. The source, focus, and end of all economic activity is the free human being. As always, when we engage in social action, the dignity of the human person and the development of the common good are central.

In Lesson 1 of our book ”The Social Credit Proposals”, the goal of economic activity is defined as follows: to make goods meet those who need them, which in practice means that people must have sufficient purchasing power to get at least the basic necessities of life.

Q. 168: How does a Christian react to his own poverty?

He will do all that he can to free himself and his own family from poverty through conscientious, persistent work. Often “evil” structures and unjust forces that limit opportunities for property ownership, self-support, and material progress for the poor have to be overcome by working together with others.

Q. 171: Is capitalism compatible with human dignity?

In view of the spectacular failure of the central planning economy in the Soviet system, St. John Paul II wrote: “If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which 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, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a ‘business economy’, ‘market economy’, or simply ‘free economy’. But if by ‘capitalism’ is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.” (Centesimus Annus, 42.)

In Lesson 9 of “The Social Credit Proposals”, one can read: “The Church does not find fault with capitalism because of private property or free enterprise. Far from wishing the disappearance of private property, the Church wishes it be spread widely and to all, let everyone be the owner of capital, let all people be true ‘capitalists’. Social Credit, by giving everyone a dividend, acknowledges that every individual is a true capitalist, the owner of a capital, the coheir of natural resources and human inventions from past generations.

The Church blames the capitalist system for not providing every human being with an access to a minimum of material goods that would allow their having a decent life. There exists, even in advanced countries, millions who go hungry. The principle of the universal destination of material goods is not reached; there is plenty of production, but distribution is lacking.

Today, the instrument that allows the distribution of goods and services to take place, the symbol that allows people to obtain products, is money. It is therefore the monetary system, the financial system that is at fault in capitalism… Pope Pius XI wrote in 1931, in his encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno: ‘Capitalism itself is not to be condemned. And surely it is not vicious of its very nature, but it has been vitiated’.”

Q. 172: Is there such a thing as a “Christian economic model”?

No. The Church is supposed to proclaim the Gospel and not enter a competition for the best economic model and technological solutions. The Church’s demand that the economy should serve man and the common good is a reasonable demand in keeping with human dignity.

One reads in Lesson 10 of “The Social Credit Proposals”: “The Popes will never approve any economic system, for this is not their duty: They do not offer technical solutions; they only establish the principles upon which is to be based any economic system which is truly at the service of the human person, and they leave the faithful free to apply the system that would best implement these principles.”

A system will be good or not insofar as it corresponds to these principles of the Church. The solutions may vary, but to the best of our knowledge, no other solution would apply the social doctrine of the Church as perfectly as Social Credit, and that is why MICHAEL chose to diffuse it. So, the furthest the Church can pronounce herself on the subject of Social Credit, it is that it contains nothing contrary to the teaching of the Church, and that every Catholic is free to adhere to it and spread it. This is exactly the conclusion reached by a commission of nine theologians appointed by the bishops of Quebec in 1939 to study the question of whether social credit was tainted with Communism or Socialism.

Q. 175: Is money bad in itself?

No, Money is a good human invention, but it can be abused. Money is a means of exchange, a measure of value, a reserve for the future, and a means with which to support what is good. Money must never become an end in itself. Jesus says explicitly: ‘You cannot serve both God and Mammon’ (Mt 6:24). Money can become an idol and become an addiction. Someone who greedily pursues money becomes the slave of his greed.

One reads in Lesson 9 of “The Social Credit Proposals”: “Money ought to be an instrument of service but bankers, by appropriating the control over its creation, have made it an instrument of domination: Since people cannot live without money, everyone must, and this includes governments, corporations, and individuals, submit to the conditions imposed upon them by the bankers to obtain money, which is the right to live in today’s society. This establishes a real dictatorship over economic life:

“This power becomes particularly irresistible when exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to speak, the lifeblood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of production, so that no one dare breathe against their will.” (Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 106.)

Q. 188: How does one act justly in business?

In economic activity, one acts justly by giving the other his due. This consists chiefly in the faithful fulfillment of contracts, the honoring of agreements, the punctual and proper delivery of goods, and payment within the agreed time. In order to be just, contracts must be entered into freely, which means without deceit, fear, or coercion. Someone who, as the more powerful negotiating partner, forces his terms on the other acts unjustly.
It is St. Thomas Aquinas who defines justice as giving to each one his due. Social Credit teaches that what is due to each one is a monthly dividend, since we are all coheirs of natural resources and progress.

Q. 190: What are the “sins” of business?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of lying, trickery, swindling, and fraud in the business world. Those who act in this way destroy a firm’s real capital: trust. Without trust, the business cannot function: when someone gives his word or signs a contract, you must be able to rely on it. One gains trust through reliability and earns it through virtuous conduct. In the business world, one must guard especially against: greed, corruption, and any form of injustice, such as theft, fraud, usury, exploitation, etc.

In Lesson 1 of “The Social Credit Proposals”, Geoffrey Dobbs defines the words “social credit” — before being a monetary reform — as the faith or confidence which binds any society together, the mutual trust or belief in each other without which fear is substituted for trust as the ‘cement’ of society... (For example, the faith that all drivers will observe the rules of the road, the faith that the label of a product shows the actual contents, etc.) Dobbs rightly points out that this social credit, or mutual trust, is at its maximum where the Christian religion is practised, and at its minimum where it is denied and derided. So those who see in Social Credit nothing but a mere monetary reform, and want to ignore religion or put it aside, have understood nothing about Social Credit. Those people should study our book “The Social Credit Proposals” and come to our study sessions in Rougemont!

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