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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 13, 2008

Rupert J. Ederer
Pages 107-116

A Principle for Economics

The principle of solidarity is critical for the social order overall. The Catholic Church in its social teachings since Leo XIII has emphasized its importance and relevance specifically for the economic order. First termed “social charity” by Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno (1931), solidarity was then declared by John Paul II to be “a Christian virtue,” in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987), and identified as the “principle of solidarity” in Centesimus Annus (1991). Three leading economic system-builders recognized it, which suggests its roots in the natural law. Adam Smith, after indicating its implicit presence in the division of labor, subsequently rejected it in favor of self-interest. Karl Marx distorted it into a class concept by confining its application to the proletariat. Only Heinrich Pesch, S. J. made it the basic principle for all sectors of the economic system and throughout the social order.

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