The Catholic Church has never supported socialism and has often spoken against the excesses of welfare states. However, the Church has never been totally comfortable with capitalism either – and certainly not with the materialism which some argue is encouraged by capitalism. Indeed, individual bishops, priests and laity have often been at the forefront of arguing strongly for government intervention in the economy both in the UK and internationally. At a time when the premises of economic liberalism are being questioned due to the financial and economic crisis, we should ask whether Catholics should feel comfortable with capitalism? Do the economic problems surrounding the financial crisis change the arguments? And can a market economy deal with the grave challenges of environment problems and extreme poverty?
Philip Booth is Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School, City University. He has previously worked at the Bank of England advising on financial stability issues. Philip writes and speaks widely on economic matters including financial markets and regulation, pensions, and on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is editor and co-author of Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy and co-edited The Road to Economic Freedom - a compilation of the work of a number of Nobel Prize winning economists. Philip is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and editor of the journal, Economic Affairs.