Free market economy in Catholic social teaching: historical overview and socio-ethical analysis
Catholic social teaching, beginning in the 19th century, aimed at nurturing and improving Christian morality in the emerging industrialized societies. But several significant studies demonstrate that changing social structures were also responsible for the “social question” of the time. Consequently bishops, such as Ketteler, fought for social reforms and a new social order. Nevertheless, the idea that free market economy could play an important role in coor-dinating economic agents seemed foreign to Catholic social teaching. In this paper, I argue that today Catholic social teaching acknowledges and appreciates market economies, if and insofar as they are regulated and understood in the sense of a „social and ecological market economy“. These principles also need to be implemented on the global scale. This approach corroborates the vision of Pope Francis, despite his radical criticism of worldwide capitalism.
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