The Problem with Dr. Mirus

by Michael Sean Winters

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At, Dr. Jeff Mirus has an unfortunate essay entitled "The Problem with Catholic Social Teaching." His thesis is summed up in this one sentence: 

The key point, again, is to remember there is no doctrinal content, and hence no hierarchical competence, in purely prudential judgments about the social order.

You will see the problem a mile away without glasses, even if Dr. Mirus can't. The distinction between "doctrinal content" and "purely prudential judgments" is too severe, to abstract, and too facile. Prudential judgments are never "purely prudential," they must, as best as possible, enflesh the doctrinal content. This is no either/or. Certainly, it is within the competence of those charged with assuring the soundness of Christian doctrine to say that something, say, neo-liberal economics of the kind Mirus champions, is hostile to Catholic belief. 

I will note that Mirus is basing his essay on a prior essay at First Things by Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute. That essay is not yet available except for a fee. When it is, I will look forward to tackling it.

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