The meaning of the common good and social justice

What is the common good? The definition that is used in almost all discussion in Catholic circles in the English-speaking world is taken from paragraph 26 of Gaudium et spes which was a document arising from the Second Vatican Council. The common good was defined as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment”. This is also the definition that is used in the English language translation of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

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Property and human dignity – the prophetic message of Pope Leo XIII

There is a temptation to play down those aspects of Rerum novarum which related to private property. This encyclical was really about labour, it is argued. Or it is suggested that the right to property is only a secondary right subject to the universal destination of goods and therefore not important. Still others say it was an encyclical that, in this respect, reflected its time – a period when the Church’s property was under attack from extreme socialists.

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Adding diversity to the university

stained glass

Globally, there are 1,400 Catholic universities. They make a substantial contribution to the intellectual life of the Church. However, there are few Catholic higher education institutions in the UK. There is a reason for this. After the hierarchy was restored in England and Wales, the focus was on building schools and then churches without much thought being given to higher education. Indeed, most of our Catholic higher education institutions evolved from teacher training colleges.

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Competition and co-operation – they are not alternatives

If you ask most people – perhaps Christians especially – what the opposite of competition is, they will suggest it is co-operation. So often you hear the phrase “co-operation not competition”. But co-operation is not the opposite of competition. Monopoly is the opposite of competition. I do wonder if any of the people who call for co-operation rather than competition have ever tried to run a businesses without co-operating with others: it would not be a success.

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No salvation in fiscal policy

Yesterday, I ended a presentation to sixth-formers by commenting that nobody would want to be Rishi Sunak. Of course, in the strict sense that is not true – indeed, many of the people to whom I was talking might well have had ambitions to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I meant was that the Chancellor was facing the most difficult combination of circumstances of anybody in his position since the mid-1970s.

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Character in the Courtroom

Amy Coney Barrett

The confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court were fascinating. These days, Parliament is not necessarily held in high regard in the UK and politics in the US is not held in high regard either. However, the Select Committee hearings and meetings of All Party Parliamentary Groups are a real credit to all politicians. Politicians at those hearings actually question each other and question witnesses in a far more interesting and skilled way than interviewers do on your average edition of BBC Newsnight, where the objective seems to be to catch politicians out so that politicians, in turn, play a boring, defensive game.

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