… Mr Longley explains some of the key concepts in an elaborate body of thought which began to emerge in 1891 with a document called Rerum Novarum which accepted with qualifications the ideas of a free market in capital and labour. They include not just “solidarity”—the idea that all members of society must look out for one anothers welfare—but “subsidiarity” or the widely devolved distribution of power. Catholic Social Teaching CST seeks to chart a middle way between unrestrained capitalism and dirigiste socialism by stressing the vital role of civil society: all the institutions, from the family to voluntary associations and churches, that stand between the individual and the state.
Mr Longley also stresses the need to cultivate virtues such as trustworthy behaviour and dismisses the idea, which was fashionable a decade ago, that the market has its own mechanisms for driving out untrustworthy behaviour. He recalls the Catholic teaching that accepts the idea of private property ownership, but with the qualification that the proprietor must be a good and socially responsible steward.