In a decadent age, the Church teaches what it can to those who will listen, and this necessitates the appearance of compromise. This is why we will insist that Catholic Social Teaching as presented here has value in several ways. It might, for one, introduce the Catholic reader of the manual to an aspect of his faith that he has never heard of. For the individual whose vocation is politics or economics, it may turn out to be the Church’s best kept secret. That in itself would be quite a discovery. Such a reader will realize that there is a ‘third way’ and that he is not limited to the two absurd programs proffered by the two leading parties of the day, and that in fact both of those parties are as anti-traditional as they come. Second, this exposition of Catholic Social Teaching might, if the reader happens to be one of those rare individuals called to politics in this age, provide an example of what a very, very attenuated application of traditional principles might look like. In other words, there is much good here, enough for it to serve as a guide for the type of person just mentioned.
The danger, however, is that this material be taken as an example of true doctrinal exposition, uncompromised and retaining its principles in their integrity—this, we must insist, would be a mistake.
These applications are beneficial, even if they sometimes take on an appearance of contrivance and compromise. This also has another consequence. The reader must understand that even if they were embraced by society and implemented in their entirety, the result would still not be a healthy, traditionally-oriented society. The disease that is afflicting the world is fatal, and the Church can at this point only treat some of the symptoms, can only bring some comfort to a doomed civilization. The merciful physician sometimes administers medicines that no truly healthy person should ever take, since they are, strictly speaking, ‘unhealthy’, but to a dying man, they provide solace and might provide benefit against the disease even if they are themselves destructive. In the same way, the anti-traditional concepts that were allowed into the Church are contingent truths, cures for a victim already in the late stages of illness. Catholic Social Teaching would be a godsend in today’s political context, but it isn’t a cure. It is preferable to anything on the menu, but it is not strictly speaking healthy—do not make of it an idol.
Always remember, we hold an already lost position, and we must always be on the lookout for chimeras. I have included this material not because I consider it a matter of doctrinal exposition properly so-called, but as a useful framework to set in opposition to the prevailing social theories, which are entirely debased. This material will also serve as a valuable resource for those individuals called to political life, that they may ‘fight the good fight,’ achieving small victories for their people, even if total victory on the social level is completely out of reach. What follows is a faithful enunciated of Catholic social teaching, as proposed in official documents and with the full authority of the Church behind it.