My friend Angelo Matera, a successful businessman and founder of Godspy, wrote a very insightful article a few years back on the Catholic faith and the free market. National Catholic Register wisely decided to rerun it in light of our current economic difficulties. An excerpt:
What can orthodox Catholics do? They can protest against these economic “structures of sin” that harm families and communities, and victimize the poor and the vulnerable. Just as we protest against laws and conditions that threaten the sanctity of life and family values, we must advocate for reasonable regulation of the marketplace to ensure a just economy (as the Catechism says in No. 2425).
Historically, the Church has always taken a middle path between collectivism (socialism) and individualism (capitalism). It favors private property and the common good, strong government and economic freedom. As Catholics, our criterion for judging economic policy should be: “Will this make life in our nation more human … more Christian?”
This might not go over well on conservative talk radio. But we are called to proclaim the Gospel, not a party platform. We must go beyond liberal and conservative.
Reducing our economy’s obsession with cutthroat competition, unrealistic growth, short-term profit and higher stock prices, by whatever reasonable means, will help create more breathing space for charitable and spiritual pursuits, and strengthen families and communities. Most management experts agree such measures would probably improve long-term business performance as well.
And that’s the rub.
An economy motivated mostly by the lust for money will, paradoxically, end up less wealthy. Even more damaging than business sins of commissionare sins of omission —the creative acts of investment and service that don’t happen when a business or economy is motivated solely by greed and selfishness rather than the sort of self-giving commitment to customers, employees, neighbors and investors that comes from the Gospel.