The relation between economics and theology in Caritas in Veritate
Keywords: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.