Pope Francis and the Economics of the Environment

We already noted that The Independent Institute has devoted its delivery of “The Independent Review, a Journal of Political Economy “( winter 2017, 150 p.) to the review of the new policy of the economy such as proposed by the Encyclical ‘Laudato Si.

Among the 7 contributions Philip Booth’s one , Director of the Institute for Economic Affairs (London) is particularly important for supporters of free market environmentalism which considers that property rights are at the heart of environmental protection. In “Property Rights and Conservation: the Missing Theme of Laudato Si” (19 p.) Booth notes the break with the tradition that from Thomas Aquinas (thirteenth century) to the Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) considers the property law as necessary and legitimate for the protection of property and people. In an other paper A.M.C. Waterman (University of Manitoba) takes a critical look in “ Pope Francis on the Environmental Crisis “(23 p.)

Max Falque


The defence of private property was a key tenet of Catholic social teaching. In some ways, this defense has reached its zenith with Rerum novarum, published in 1891. Often described as ‘working encyclical’, this papal letter of Léon XIII also presented a vigorous defense of private property based on natural law.

In later Catholic teaching, the importance of the institution of private property has often been stressed, but it has also been criticized. In addition, regarding environmental issues, not only the importance of private property has rarely been proposed as a solution to environmental problems, but it has also been left hear that the rights of private property can be one of the causes of environmental problems and limitations must be so limited ownership in order to limit damage to the environment.

. This line of reasoning is interesting because, in the modern economy, we think generally that the best definition and enforcement of property rights are an important solution to environmental problems. Thus, despite the belief of the Catholic Church in the importance of property rights, the Church seems to consider them as problematic when many modern economists consider them as useful. This article examines the importance of private property in Catholic teaching. He considers then the qualifications that the Church has done in relation to private property rights and their role in the protection of the environment. Finally, it presents some of the economic rsearch