Purpose – John Paul II's views on economic systems have been construed differently by some commentators who have been seeking approval for their own views rather than searching for the meaning that he himself intends to convey. John Paul is labeled by many as favoring capitalism, and by others as supporting socialism. A few have been scrutinizing his statements in hopes of finding support for a “third-way.” In this paper, John Paul is quoted at length to represent his views more accurately. Design/methodology/approach – This paper originated in a collection of essays on the theme of John Paul II's vision of the social economy that was published by the International Journal of Social Economics in fall 1998. This author is indebted to the contributors to that collection for many insights into John Paul's vision. Eight topics are covered: consumption, distribution, capital investment, work as such, leisure, labor, development, and market economy versus command economy. This paper uses many more direct quotes than is customary in scholarly work, but there is no other way to proceed and remain faithful to John Paul's vision of the social economy. Findings – John Paul's writings on economic affairs are significant for what they teach about the premises employed in economics. His own philosophy of the human person reinforces the four premises of personalist economics more so than the premises of the mainstream and challenges the mainstream at its foundations in the philosophy of individualism. Research limitations/implications – John Paul speaks to a wide range of issues and questions central to economics and economic affairs. It would be presumptuous to represent this paper as a thorough examination of everything that John Paul has said, written, and means in this regard. Practical implications – This paper attempts to highlight some of the key arguments that John Paul II has set forth on eight centrally important economic topics, comparing and contrasting his pronouncements with the views of mainstream economists on the same topics. Originality/value – This paper draws on the insights of 20 professional colleagues specialized in range of subdisciplines in economics, holding faculty positions at major universities in the USA, Italy, and Canada, and with a strong interest in understanding the social economy. The concluding section states John Paul's vision of the social economy in terms of 13 most important arguments.
Christian theology, Economics, Religion, Social economics
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