The relation between economics and theology in Caritas in Veritate


  • A. M. C. Waterman University of Manitoba and St John's College, Winnipeg



history of economics, moral theology, political economy, social policy, economic development, self-love


Caritas in Veritate is the latest in the series of papal 'social encyclicals' beginning with Rerum Novarum (1891). Like its immediate predecessor Centesimus Annus (1991), it presents a body of economic doctrine favourable to the market economy that is superimposed on an underlying body of older doctrine that is deeply hostile to it. This article investigates the possibility that this incoherence results from a corresponding incoherence in the theological framework of the recent encyclicals. The doctrine of the encyclicals is then contrasted with an eighteenth-century, Anglo-Scotch tradition of thought that showed the compatibility with Catholic moral theology of a privately owned, competitive economy driven by self-love. This tradition is the intellectual origin of modern economics, yet it has not been available to the Church of Rome because of an historical accident. The article concludes by speculating upon the reasons for this.

Author Biography

A. M. C. Waterman, University of Manitoba and St John's College, Winnipeg

Anthony M. C. Waterman is professor emeritus of economics at University of Manitoba, and Fellow at St John’s College, Winnipeg. His research focuses on various aspects of the relation of economic theory to Christian theology, and the related study of eighteenth and nineteenth-century intellectual history. His work on Christian political economy in Britain, c. 1798-1834, led him to his recent and current studies of Papal social doctrine.




How to Cite

Waterman, A. M. C. (2013). The relation between economics and theology in Caritas in Veritate. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 6(2), 24-42.