Cathonomics: How Catholic Tradition Can Create a More Just Economy

by Anthony M Annett

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


To whom is the book directed? The world is right now responding to the damages underway as a result of the Ukrainian war that the entire world has responded to. Readers of all faiths and backgrounds, from professional economists and ethicists to students and concerned citizens in all parts of the world, will benefit enormously form Cathonomics and its wonderful introduction to the social teachings of the Catholic Church, the global turmoil of recent years, including COVID-19, wars without end, climate upheavals, and widespread social unrest, are symptoms of a world in ethical crisis. We have the wealth and the know-how to achieve a prosperous and sustainable world for all, yet we lack the consensus on how to address our pressing and growing woes. Even worse, the polarization and ideological battle lines are becoming starker as the global challenges have grown.

As Annett states: The core problems we face are not due to the lack of technical solutions or scarcity of vital resources and finances. Solar and wind energy, for example, can provide environmentally safe power to meet the world’s energy needs hundreds or even thousands of times over, if we deploy these energy sources properly, instead of relying on dangerous fossil fuels. Our land, water and food supplies can meet the food and other needs of all the world’s people, indeed with far healthier diets than today, if we use these resources wisely and with less waste and with due regard for nature. And in a world in which a few hundred people have more than $7 trillion of combined wealth, we can finance the urgent needs of our world’s poorest people.


Our core challenges are ethical and organizational. We human beings, acting together through our families and communities, our governments, and our global organizations, most important the United Nations, must choose to do the right things, both individually in our personal behavior and together as citizens and members of society. These challenges are ethical to promote the common good and organizational, to create institutions that turn ethical choices into human bell being.


Cathonomics offers us practical solutions based on the great ethical wisdom of the Church’s social teachers. This remarkable body of thought is a great fit to humanity. It draws on the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, the Jewish prophets the teachings of Jesus and the Gospels, the thoughts of the Church Fathers, and the magnificent synthesis in the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Late in the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII turned to Aquinas’s great teachings to help the Church to address the ethical challenges posed by industrialization. Annett powerfully recounts how a series of great papal encyclicals, starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and continuing till today with Pope Francis’s remarkable encyclicals Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti, have addressed the ethical challenges raised by the modern world economy and the new geopolitics. The Church’s social teachings that have emerged from this remarkable series of reflections over 130 years offer the world a profoundly wise vision of humanity one that inspires us to overcome self-defeating egoism an narrow-mindedness in order to foster a peaceful , inclusive, and sustainable world. Not only that, this great body of thought offers very practical guidance and pastoral wisdom on how these great goals can be achieved.


As Cathonomics demonstrates, the Church’s social teaching has helped both to inspire and to promote the United Nations in its efforts to build a world of universal human dignity and sustainable development according to the aspirations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Pope Francis’s Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti, Annett shows, offers its great guidance in promoting a world of environmental responsibility and universal fraternity across nations and cultures. Readers of Cathonomics will be dazzled and inspired to join a dialogue about the human good that has been underway since Aristotle walked in the Lyceum of Athens and Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Most important will gain practical insights from the Church’s social teachings to help find a way out of our current global cul-de-sac. Pope Francis and the Church’s unwavering defense of human dignity inspire us to move beyond our throwaway culture and the globalization of indifference. Annett shows persuasively how this great ethical wisdom can guide practical action to achieve a world economy that is prosperous, inclusive and sustainable, that is, a world economy that serves the common good.

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