The Observatory’s in-depth analyses


The right to private property as understood by the Social Doctrine of the Church is now in danger. Our Observatory has recently dedicated considerable attention to this phenomenon and will continue to do so in the future as well.

On 17 June, 2020, shortly after the end of the initial lockdown in Italy, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi posted a Note entitled “After the coronavirus: the pathway to true liberty” on our website [read here]. In this Note, among other things, he sounded a warning about a renewed accentuation of centralized state control and a hike in taxes. In particular, he flagged serious reforms such as: the emergency income, the blanket regularization of illegal immigrants, and the massive hiring of people in the civil service without any operational reasons.

In the Lectio magistralis [read here and view the video here] he delivered on 17 October last in Lonigo at the III National Day of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Bishop Crepaldi raised the issue of private property once again, noting some ideological views that now endanger it, including those tending to consider it instrumental to something else, and not a principle with its own original dignity and an element of both natural and revealed law actually present in two commandments of the Decalogue.

Following Bishop Crepaldi’s words, Silvio Brachetta and Guido Vignelli posted two excellent studies on private property in the Social Doctrine of the Church on our website.

Silvio Brachetta, in his article  entitled “Private property as a “true and perfect” right” [read here] delved deeply into the principle of private property in the encyclical Rerum novarum of Leo XIII, highlighting, among other things, that keeping the tax burden too heavy is tantamount to theft, and that the abolition of private property pursued by the Socialists had nothing social about it at all. On the contrary, private property is what has a social nature about it.

Guido Vignelli, in a masterly article entitled “Is the right to private property a relative right? Observations on a misleading judgment of Pope Francis”: [read here], took a very close look at paragraphs 118, 119 and 120 of the encyclical Fratelli tutti, and in particular the subordination of the right to public property to that of the universal destination of goods. If subordinated to another principle, that of private property is no longer an original principle. Mr. Vignelli questions this approach in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church. A very interesting article indeed.

The undermining of the principle of private property is blatantly evident throughout this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Government dispositions have denied it in fact, imposing restrictions on free economic activities for health-related reasons, and even their outright closure. Many observers fear a new form of economic authoritarianism being driven by the pandemic. Now being imposed is the so-called “Chinese model” in the battle against the pandemic. While this has occurred practically everywhere, underway in some countries is a major and very evident neo-socialist reset at a high cost for the population. This is the case in Argentina which has been assessed in depth by our Observatory in three articles.

Daniel Passaniti, the director of CIES in Buenos Aires and one of our Observatory’s collaborators, has written two articles on the situation in his country:: “Argentina, the reboot of the Leviathan after the pandemic” [Read here], and “Argentina: towards a ‘new normality’. The dangerous advance of demagogic populism” [read here].  He writes: “We cannot but help to feel the danger involved in the legitimization of political power that violates liberty and responsibility not only on the individual level, but also on the social level, regarding the correct and orderly functioning of society and the economy, seeking its own justification in its selfsame exceptional nature”.

Renato Cristin, a professor at the University of Trieste, wrote an article we willingly posted on our website with this unequivocal title: “The Argentina Experiment: neo-communism attacking private property” [here in Italian] Mr. Cristin writes: “It is surprising that the Church gives support to what has by now become a rampant endeavor of destruction, requisition and disparagement of private property and personal goods (often public ones as well), intimidation and extortion involving entrepreneurs (whether big or small) and individual citizens, to say nothing of the centralization and nationalization of the economy and every aspect of society, from education to information”.