FROM THE EDITOR:
Alas, another missed issue. Again I beg your pardon, but as you can see, I've changed the look a bit. I've revised the BACKMATTER as well. And I'm also redesigning the web site, so I haven't posted the most recent issues yet, but I will soon.
And again this ezine gets shorter! Of the ezines I receive, the ones I like best are those which offer one item; this is my email inbox, after all. So I'm going to try that here. Whether it's a SELECTION or an ACTION/RESOURCE, I'd like to give you something pithy that's brief enough to slip in among your emails and be read in full, right away, without guilt.
This will be easier for me, of course, but I think you'll like it too. If you find yourself missing that magazine feeling, just wait--I have another project brewing that you might like. More on that in the future.
Today, Pius XII discusses the "twin rocks of shipwreck" you face when you start thinking about private property. Individualism on one side, collectivism (communism) on the other. Either is fatal. Where's the balance?
Thanks for reading!
Bill Powell, Editor
Pius XII: Avoiding the Twin Rocks of Shipwreck
45. First, then, let it be considered as certain and
established ... the twofold character of ownership, called
usually individual or social according as it regards
either separate persons or the common good....
46. Accordingly, twin rocks of shipwreck must be carefully
avoided. For, as one is wrecked upon, or comes close to,
what is known as "individualism", by denying or minimizing
the social and public character of the right of property, so
by rejecting or minimizing the private and individual
character of this same right, one inevitably runs into
"collectivism" or at least closely approaches its tenets.
Unless this is kept in mind, one is swept from his course
upon the shoals of that moral, juridical, and social
modernism which We denounced in the Encyclical issued at the
beginning of Our Pontificate....
[47.] The right of property is distinct from its use.
That justice called commutative commands sacred respect
for the division of possessions, and forbids invasion of
others' rights through the exceeding of the limits of one's
own property; but the duty of owners to use their property
only in a right way does not come under this type of
justice, but under other virtues, obligations of which
"cannot be enforced by legal action." Therefore, they
are in error who assert that ownership and its right use are
limited by the same boundaries; and it is much farther still
from the truth to hold that a right to property is destroyed
or lost by reason of abuse or non-use....
49. It follows from what We have termed the individual and
at the same time social character of ownership, that men
must consider in this matter not only their own advantage
but also the common good. To define these duties in detail
when necessity requires and the natural law has not done so,
is the function of those in charge of the State....
Moreover, Leo XIII wisely taught "that God has left the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and institutions of peoples." ... That the State is not permitted to discharge its duty arbitrarily is, however, clear. The natural right itself both of owning goods privately and of passing them on by inheritance ought always to remain intact and inviolate, since this indeed is a right that the State cannot take away: "For man is older than the State," and also "domestic living together is prior both in thought and in fact to uniting into a polity."
Wherefore the wise Pontiff declared that it is grossly unjust for a State to exhaust private wealth through the weight of imposts and taxes....
Yet when the State brings private ownership into harmony with the needs of the common good, it does not commit a hostile act against private owners but rather does them a friendly service; for it thereby effectively prevents the private possession of goods, which the Author of nature in His most wise providence ordained for the support of human life, from causing intolerable evils and thus rushing to its own destruction; it does not destroy private possessions, but safeguards them; and it does not weaken private property rights, but strengthens them.
50. Furthermore, a person's superfluous income, that is,
income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly and
with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free
determination. Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers
of the Church constantly declare in the most explicit
language that the rich are bound by a very grave precept to
practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.
52. That ownership is originally acquired both by
occupancy of a thing not owned by any one and by labor, or,
as is said, by specification, the tradition of all ages as
well as the teaching of Our Predecessor Leo clearly
testifies. For, whatever some idly say to the contrary, no
injury is done to any person when a thing is occupied that
is available to all but belongs to no one; however, only
that labor which a man performs in his own name and by
virtue of which a new form or increase has been given to a
thing grants him title to these fruits.
-- Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 45, 46, 49, 50, 52 (1931)
[I have added a comma or two, inserted paragraph breaks, and italicized a few terms for a sane read.]
Footnotes, numbered as in original document:
29. Encyclical, Ubi Arcano, Dec. 23, 1922.
30. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 35.
31. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 36.
32. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 14.
34. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 12.
35. Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, 20.
Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[This short link will redirect you to the full encyclical.]