Catholic Social Teaching, Systems, and Ideology
Because of the constant need to re-interpret and re-apply the principles of its social doctrine, which are themselves unchanging, it should be obvious that the Church will never present a specific economic “system” or political “program” of any kind.
Technical applications are not, and cannot be, its domain, since they must be built and modified according to the unique circumstances of each historical, geographical, and cultural situation. Technical solutions that prove fruitful for one social group or geographical zone may prove inappropriate for another, and so it would be futile for the Church to try and produce a “one-size-fits-all” solution and demand that its solution be blindly applied to all peoples at all times. Such is the danger of ideological thinking, which the Church avoids at all times.
However, it should also be said that precisely due to the fact that the Church stands beyond ideology and specific systems, she retains the ability to judge the appropriateness of these systems, as to whether or not they meet the requirements of her principles. This means that when the Church denounces capitalism and socialism, it remains within its rights; and it can denounce these illegitimate systems without having to offer an alternative “system” to be erected in their place. Discernment and principles are her domain. What she claims to offer is “an indispensable and ideal orientation,” which she calls upon the laity to put into practice, each in his own sphere of competence according to his vocation.