Private Property

Let us briefly consider the whole issue of private property as an example of the problems we now confront. You will hear people say that private property is a natural right, hence inviolable. The formulation is not correct, however, and Thomas Aquinas would shudder to hear it. To begin with, there is something that is the common possession of mankind. According to the oldest line of tradition in the Church, which would include the Fathers of the Church and people like Thomas Aquinas, the created universe is the common possession of all. This possession comes first, and Aquinas calls it a natural right. We are the stewards and administrators of the cosmos, possessing it in common. The stewardship is not private or exclusivist.

What are we to say about private possession? Saint Basil said that private property was the result of original sin. If

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