A Catholic/Georgist Dialogue
Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) in 1891. Since then, Catholic Social Thought has encouraged political leaders to adopt programs to alleviate poverty by achieving a just distribution of property. Which types of property should be distributed equitably and which steps should be taken toward that goal have remained open questions. Georgists argue that the solution is clear: poverty arises only because the current system of land ownership drives down wages. Georgists and Catholics also share common concerns about other social issues, such as war and peace, community development, immigration, and obstacles to development. However, they differ in their diagnosis of the cause of social problems and in their recommended solutions. Catholics focus more on individual morality and conscience, while Georgists tend to think in impersonal categories of social ethics. Yet there is enough common ground to initiate a dialogue between these two traditions. The Council of Georgist Organizations organized a conference at the University of Scranton in 2007 at which eight Catholics and eight Georgists compared their views on a series of topics related to social justice and the common good. This book enables readers to get a good sense of the ways in which Catholics and Georgists can work together as well as the potential obstacles to cooperative action.