Adam Smith Program
Department of Economics · George Mason University

Michael Watson (Belmont Abbey College), Mark Hanssen (Belmont Abbey College), Grattan Brown (Bishop Ireton High School): Catholic Social Thought and Mainline Economics


Start Time
Saturday, 4 Mar 2023
End Time
Saturday, 4 Mar 2023
Adam Smith Program

Catholic Social Thought and Mainline Economics

Why do popes say things about economics? What is Catholic Social Thought (CST)? How does it talk about economics? What does it say, and not say? And how can free market economists interact with CST? Drawing upon both religious and classical sources, modern Catholic Social Thought began as a response to the Industrial Revolution, articulated principles for social organization, imposed no economic models, rejected Marxism, and recognized the wealth building potential of capitalism. The Catholic Church developed CST to help Catholics live within whatever society they find themselves. CST’s foundational principles include the family as the fundamental unit of society, robust civil society, limited government, subsidiarity, social justice and the common good. Some of CST’s core assumptions, e.g., the existence of a personal, loving God, are at odds with some ideologies, while CSTs principles, including the benefits and challenges of free markets, resonate with those of liberal economic thought.