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“Should government favor those made rich by the capitalist current system or should it support the interests of a democratic majority?” asks Anthony Stevens-Arroyo in the Washington Post’s On Faith section.

His solution — a “Catholic” compromise”

The teachings of the Catholic Church strike a balance between these competing visions by stressing the common good over the individual’s benefit and shared sacrifice in economic matters. The technical name is “distributive justice” which ensures that prosperity follows along democratic principles of equal human and civil rights.

He notes how the church witnessed the end of the Roman Empire, feudalism, absolute monarchy and Communism — often prospering amid each system’s failures.

“Will the church fare as well if 2011’s form of capitalism fails?” he asks:

Some people will likely insist that capitalism is on firmer grounds today than is Catholicism. Certainly, Wall Street bankers appear to be superior to the bishops of the church in matters financial, administrative and political. But the loss of control of nations in a global capitalism and the refusal by the public in many nations accept austerity cut-backs signal a new stage of vulnerability to capitalist principles. Systems can run on accumulated momentum even when they are out of gas. Absolute monarchy in France was already in decline before the French Revolution and the Communist control over Poland had eroded long before the dramatic gestures of Blessed John Paul II hastened its downfall. Don’t look for an end to capitalism is some revolutionary uprising. Capitalism is not a single leader like Muammar Gaddafi, who sees his power and army crumble to then hide in some dark place until capture.

That is my reading of the response of the masses world-wide from Wisconsin and Ohio to London and Tel Aviv. The working class – always larger in numbers than the ruling class – is protesting against governments that dictate lower wages and reduce spending on social needs instead of demanding higher taxes for corporations and the super wealthy.

Meanwhile, some strong-man rulers in the Arab world – all of whom supported global capitalist markers — have been toppled by people demanding democratic participation in government.

“So,” he notes, “as systems fail, they morph into alternatives. I pray that the United States resolves its social-economic contradictions in accord with Catholic teaching.”

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