This study focuses on the intersection of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and economic affairs. Specifically, it examines how CST has evaluated the phenomenon and economic system of Capitalism since the publication of the encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891 up to the present. The Church’s interest in economic affairs arises from the fact that the Church’s mission is holistic, to encompass not only the spiritual welfare of its members, but also the material circumstances of their daily lives. This holistic mission of the Church comes from Jesus himself, who not only preached and forgave sins, but also healed the sick and fed the hungry (Mt 10:7-8; Mt 25:35-40).
Presently, there’s a lack of consensus both in the Church and secular discourse concerning which kind of economic system comes closest to addressing the great concerns of CST, such as human dignity, the common good, participation, dignity of work, human development, and the preferential option for the poor. Despite the spread of Capitalism in the past few centuries, the current global crises such as the widening income inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic, ecological destruction, and global warming have triggered a reassessment of Capitalism.
This study, therefore, wants to further the dialogue between CST and Capitalism by examining the various challenges and exploring the various opportunities that Capitalism presents to the Church’s holistic mission. We aim to show the various ways in which this dialogue not only inspires a modification of the current practice of Capitalism but also enriches Catholic economic thought.