Full Libertarianism is generally accepted as incompatible with Catholic teaching. What parts are generally opposed to Catholicism and the Catechism?

  • I asked a much more specific question a while back that addresses a subset of this question christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1009/…
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 8, 2021 at 21:41
  • 1
    I've never understood how any Christian who accepts the New Testament could support political positions that state that taxation is theft. But that's only one part of it.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 8, 2021 at 23:11
  • Dannii what part of the NT are you referring too? Also its generally accepted among libertarians that some taxation is okay. We aren't anarchists after all.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 9, 2021 at 0:07
  • Peter, I like that question but I'm interested to see if there are other parts that people say are incompatible.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 9, 2021 at 0:08

2 Answers 2


Libertarianism is diametrically opposed to the principle of solidarity.

The principle of solidarity requires that men and women of our day cultivate a greater awareness that they are debtors of the society of which they have become part. They are debtors because of those conditions that make human existence liveable, and because of the indivisible and indispensable legacy constituted by culture, scientific and technical knowledge, material and immaterial goods and by all that the human condition has produced. A similar debt must be recognized in the various forms of social interaction, so that humanity's journey will not be interrupted but remain open to present and future generations, all of them called together to share the same gift in solidarity.

Compendium of Social Doctrine

The straw-man libertarian would say that "a man who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps" doesn't owe anybody anything. But Rome acknowledges that very critical fact that she wasn't built in a day and says we all owe each other some sort of debt. Which is probably why Jesus said "forgive us our debts" instead of "forgive us our trespasses, failings, etc..". We can understand "forgiving other peoples trespasses against us", and that is good, but on a super deep level, what we're saying is an non-ironic "excuse me for living"

Libertarianism is not diametrically opposed to the principle of subsidiarity. They get it right there, with respect to Federal rights, State rights, individual rights. Individual rights are at the top. Subsidiarity is the principle that government is done best at the appropriate level. Libertarianism argues that families should be free from government interference, that is in line with Catholicism.

But it might tend to go a step farther and stress individual rights over the Catholic notion that the "Family is the fundamental unit of society". Catholicism acknowledges only the usual family unit borne out of marriage with openness to children. Libertarianism doesn't necessarily favor one form of a family over another. Catholicism says that only a family modeled on the Holy Family will prosper and other forms of a family units are to be avoided.

  • I don't know if that works Peter. Key components of libertarianism involve private charities and strong social structures as a replacement for public welfare. While it is true libertarians would reject that you "need" to give anyone anything, they would say that you "ought" to give people things in charity.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:11
  • @luke perhaps you need to distinguish the party platform from the philosophy? I thought that's what you meant by "full libertariansim". I may not have articulated it properly, but that is the gist of the argument; that libertarianism doesn't fully embrace solidarity. I had this conversation with a priest almost 20 years ago when I was entertaining Liberatrianism so my details are a little hazy.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:17
  • yes perhaps, were you answering in terms of party platform or in terms of broad political philosophy?
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:19
  • @luke I meant in terms of broad political philosophy. Certainly the Libertarian platform could one day be as libertarian as the Democrat party is democratic today, as the redneck calling into NPR said before he was cut off.
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:29
  • 2
    @luke certainly Catholicism accepts the good stuff. But like all heresies (and don't take that word the wrong way) the philosophy individual liberty in libertarianism is the "virtue gone wild" to use G.K. Chesterton's phraseology. It took me a bit to get over libertarianism. There is just no perfect political party, and I think that's just the way it's always going to be .
    – Peter Turner
    Nov 11, 2021 at 21:47

One of the challenges of libertarianism is that human nature is depraved in many ways.

Without some sort of state incentive to help the poor & vulnerable, or state corrective against predatory practices that take advantage of the poor & vulnerable, the principle of subsidiarity (also shared by many non Catholics) is at risk.

Personally I think that the best way to help those stuck in poverty is to encourage a free market emphasis on education & entrepreneurship. Toxic charity & paternalistic models of humanitarian mission work is something to be avoided. As much as possible, hand outs should be linked with being able to give hand ups.

  • 2
    Unfortunately, welfare is the worst way to help out struggling families. Welfare creates an incentive to stay poor.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 12, 2021 at 16:43
  • 1
    Unfortunately, free trade does not always means fair trade.
    – Ken Graham
    Nov 12, 2021 at 17:13
  • When the church engages in non toxic charity social concern, than it also gives an opportunity for more effective evangelization to take place. People don't care what you have to say until they know you care.
    – Jess
    Nov 12, 2021 at 20:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .