Saturday, September 4, 2010


Since the core principle around which so much of our political discord in America today revolves is the right to property, whether it be land (eminent domain), money (health care bill and taxation) or any number of regulations and laws written with the commerce and general welfare clauses in mind, I thought the article by Hilaire Belloc quoted below would be something to consider.

For the Catholic Church, the right to property is a basic, fundamental individual and corporate right. Without property rights we have no control over our destiny. If we cannot strive to own and control our little bit of this earth for the benefit of ourselves, our family and our community then we are slaves. Only property can lift us out of slavery. With it we can achieve a certain level of self sufficiency that we could never achieve without it.

Of course, as with all rights, certain responsibilities exist alongside the right to property that cannot be denied without serious repercussions. Belloc does a masterful job of describing this exact relationship in
the article quoted below.

One more thing. I humbly suggest that reading and understanding Catholic social teaching is vital to the survival of our Republic. We seem to swing back and forth now between two equal evils, Socialism and unrestrained Capitalism. One makes us slaves to the state while the other sells us to the corporations. Neither is what God intended.

"Let us now examine the exact doctrine of the Catholic Church in this matter [the right to property].

I think it may be fairly stated as follows :-

1. The right to property in material things is a moral right, attaching not only to the community, but also to private corporations, .i.e., corporations other than the community, to families, and to individuals.

2. This right extends not only over objects consumed in use, but also over objects consumed in production, and over land. It does not attach to particular categories of things. Its boundaries may vary with varying customs and traditions. But its presence as a normal institution of human society is essential to the health of that society.

3. Like every other right, this right stands in a certain scale of proportion to the rest. It may be suspended for the service of a greater right; it must not be suspended for the service of a lesser.

4. Finally, this function of property, like all other human attributes, is distorted when it is defined in isolation. It must be taken in with the mass of all other human functions, and is subject, as is every one of them, to the general modifications imposed by the generalities of human existence."

It's interesting that Belloc talks about property rights in relation to other lesser and greater rights. I wonder if the opening of the Declaration of Independence is structured as it was, "...Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." because Jefferson was acknowledging this ascendancy of rights? After all, the word happiness was originally intended to be the word property. Without liberty we could not own property and without life, nothing would be possible.

Just letting my mind wander a bit.

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1 comment:

  1. Good post, Catawissa. My comments: