Friday, November 05, 2010

Joe Hargrave: "How John Locke influenced Catholic Social Teaching"

How John Locke influenced Catholic Social Teaching (Joe Hargrave, InsideCatholic.com. November 5, 2010):

It isn't often that John Locke is mentioned in discussions of Catholic social teaching, unless it is to set him up as an example of all that the Church supposedly rejects. After all, Locke is considered one of the founders of a liberal and individualist political tradition that was rejected by the papacy in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, a closer examination of both Locke's Two Treatises on Civil Government and the papal encyclical that set modern Catholic social teaching in motion, Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, reveals that Locke was not a pure "individualist" as many have assumed, nor was Rerum Novarum a categorical rejection of all things "individual." Rather, both Locke and Leo XIII craft their basic political arguments -- especially with respect to the right to private property -- based on the same assumptions about natural law, natural right, and Christian obligation.

Though it is evident from the texts themselves, the agreement between Locke and Leo is also a historical fact. In 2005, Manfred Spieker, a professor of Christian Social Thought at the Universität Osnabrück in Germany, cited the influence of Locke on three of the men who drafted the text of Rerum Novarum. ... [more]

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