CESJ’s Director of Research Michael D. Greaney has just published an article in the respected Homiletic and Pastoral Review that discusses the role that Pope Francis could play as a globally respected moral leader and teacher in solving systemic problems such as the growing wealth and income gap. In “Pope Francis and the Just Third Way” (June 13, 2015) Greaney makes the case that the world now needs an encyclical that clarifies the principles of economic justice.
Starting from a “Just Third Way” perspective, Greaney first explains the concept of social justice as it was first formulated by Pope Pius XI, and later analyzed by the social philosopher Rev. William Ferree, S.M., Ph.D. Greaney notes how many commentators have completely missed the point that Pius XI was making about social justice.
Most academics have failed to grasp the explicit meaning that Pius XI assigned to “social justice,” and its particular emphasis on the structuring of social institutions and the “common good” (“the system”) to support the dignity and empowerment of every person. They have ignored or misunderstood how social justice involves a specific act — the responsibility of every person to organize with others to correct defective institutions that block full participation in the common good at any level or deny just distributions.
Examining the three principles of economic justice (participative justice, distributive justice and social justice) first systematized by Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler and later refined by CESJ, Greaney explains how these principles offer ethical and practical guidelines for correcting unjust institutions like our money, credit, tax, inheritance and ownership systems that are now blocking most people from participating fully in the economy as owners as well as workers.
Greaney shows how the concepts of social and economic justice have become distorted and confused within academia, which in turn has led to unjust or ineffective policies that merely widen the wealth and income gap. He then explains how changes in the economic system — based upon limited economic power of the state, free and non-monopolistic markets, and full rights of private property — can only take place if there are practical ways of financing growth (using “future savings/profits”) so that capital ownership opportunities can become accessible to every child, woman and man without depriving current owners of their wealth or property rights.
The full text of the article “Pope Francis and the Just Third Way” appears on the website of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, at http://www.hprweb.com/2015/06/pope-francis-and-the-just-third-way/.
The article expands what Michael briefly outlined at last year’s CESJ meeting. I was glad to see that it was picked up by a variety of readers and even sent out for translation!