The Summa of the Libertarian Catholic begins by saying this,
“Our purpose in life is to be saints, promoting a civilization of truth and love (pro veritatis amoris que humanitate). The best way to achieve that goal is to limit coercion, including that of government, and to restrict the role of government to its simplest form in alignment with the principles of liberty.”
“Popes have consistently denounced the concept of socialist governments and to complement that, we’d like to provide a primer for the defense of libertarianism and Catholicism in the form of St. Thomas’s Summa Theologea to hopefully answer all the doubts one may have about the libertarian Catholic system.”
These first paragraphs set the stage for what will be the subordination of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the magisterium of the Catholic Church to the individual autonomy of the libertarian mind. In addition to this illegitimate subordination, the Summa of the Libertarian Catholic creates divisions between Popes and St. Thomas Aquinas, and even puts the teachings of the Catechism, St. Paul, and Jesus himself against the Decalogue by claiming that taxation is in violation of the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”
There are 12 articles making the case that Catholicism and libertarianism are compatible. I will address each article as they are presented in order to demonstrate the opposite, that Catholicism and libertarianism are not compatible in any meaningful way.
But before analyzing the first article, let’s take a quick look at the opening paragraphs because they presuppose the legitimacy of the libertarian project. The claim is that in order to promote a civilization of truth and love coercion must be reduced, and the role of the government must be aligned with the principles of liberty. This suggested libertarian credo, however, is not the apostolic mandate given by Christ when he announced the Great Commission. Jesus doesn’t say that the apostles should promote the principles of liberty against the coercive aggressions of Caesar which continually violates the NAP, nor does he say that a net reduction of government to that of the principles of liberty is necessary for a civilization built upon the tenets of truth and love. It is also important to remember that these principles of liberty won’t become “pillars” of Western Civilization until several hundred years after Christ ascended into heaven, and the inspired apostles wrote the documents of the New Testament.
Christ tells his apostles that, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth,” and continues to say, “Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, to the consummation of the world.”
The commentary on these passages is useful for correction (original emphasis),
“All power is given to me. The Arians object that the power which Christ had, is said to be given him by another. The Catholics answer, that Christ, as man, received his power from God. It may also be said, that the eternal Son, though he be equal, and be the same God with the Father, yet proceeds and receives all from the Father. See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s Church. He received from his Father, all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power he sent them (even as his Father sent him, S. John xx. 21) to teach and disciple…not one, but all nations, and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, (not for three or four hundred years only) but all days, even to the consummation of the world. How then could the Catholic Church go astray, having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. S. John xiv. 6. Ch. – Some hence infer that Jesus Christ, according to his human nature, was sovereign Lord of the whole world; but more properly this may be taken of his spiritual power, such as regards the salvation of souls. For Jesus Christ says to Pilate, my kingdom is not of this world. This spiritual power, Jesus Christ communicated in part to his apostles and their successors in the ministry, as to his vicars: As my Father hath sent me, so I send you. Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven: behold here the power both in heaven and earth.”
As the Great Commission commands, and the commentary elucidates, Jesus Christ has given his authority to the Church through the apostles and their successors, which includes the Vicar of Christ on earth. By this divinely instituted authority, the Church has spoken authoritatively on questions concerning politics and the political economy, therefore, it is our duty as Catholics to submit to these teaching rather than make them subservient to the modern system of libertarianism. When it comes to the teaching magisterium, the Church takes precedent over the Mises Institute.
The first article of the libertarian Summa addresses this question – Whether libertarianism is compatible with Catholicism,
Objection 1: There is a world of difference between “the tax burden should be reduced in order to promote economic growth” and the libertarian, “taxation is theft.” There’s room for the former in Catholicism but not the latter.
On the contrary: The Catechism states, “The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them.”
I answer that: The Catholic Church does not endorse or exclude one political ideology over the other. Her only goal is the benefit of mankind. The Catechism states that regimes must be in concordance with “…the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons…” as we’ll see here, libertarianism may be the only political system that actually satisfies all of these requirements.
The first objection offered reduces the claim of incompatibility between Catholicism and libertarianism to disagreement on the role of taxation. This is too minimalist of a position. There are many more areas of disagreement than this, and the most fundamental is the libertarian commitment to metaphysical nominalism. When applied to the communal and economic realm the metaphysical presupposition of nominalism reduces society to atomized individuals that interact merely based on the suggestion of negative rights claims. Any impartation of duty toward God and neighbor can only become legitimate if voluntarily recognized by the individual.
For instance, compare the Church’s description of society with that of Murray Rothbard’s.
First the description provided by the Catholic Church,
“1880. A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an “heir” and receives certain “talents” that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must deploy. He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is a part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good.”
And now Rothbard’s description,
“The first truth to be discovered about human action is that it can be undertaken only by individual ‘actors.’ Only individuals have ends and can act to attain them. There are no such things as ends or actions by ‘groups,’ ‘collectives,’ or ‘States,’ which do not take place as actions by various specific individuals. ‘Societies’ or ‘groups’ have no independent existence aside from the actions of their individual members. Thus, to say that ‘governments’ act is merely a metaphor; actually, certain individuals are in a certain relationship with other individuals and act in a way that they and the other individuals recognize as ‘governmental.’ The metaphor must not be taken to mean that the collective institution itself has any reality apart from the acts of various individuals. Similarly, an individual may contract to act as an agent in representing another individual or on behalf of his family. Still, only individuals can desire and act. The existence of an institution such as government becomes meaningful only through influencing the actions of those individuals who are and those who are not considered as members.”
Finally, this passage offers further evidence of Rothbard’s reductionism,
“It is all the more curious, incidentally, that while laissez-fairests should by the logic of their position, be ardent believers in a single, unified world government, so that no one will live in a state of ‘anarchy’ in relation to anyone else, they almost never are. And once one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible ‘anarchy,’ why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the State? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each Block? Each house? Each person? But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist.”
These references make clear that the Catholic Church views the social organism as something real and existing organically, rather than something that only attains legitimacy from the nominally constructed metaphors of which it is described.
Another area of disagreement is how the science of economics is viewed and practiced. The Catholic view of economics is that it is a branch of moral philosophy, whereas the libertarian view is that it is an autonomous science dealing with positive facts rather than normative claims. These two fundamental philosophical disagreements indicate that the opening objection in the first article is necessarily minimalist for the express purpose of making the libertarian case look stronger than it actually is. Metaphysical nominalism and economic positivism are not compatible with metaphysical realism and normative economic methodology.
The first objection then, is much too simplistic in its descriptive disagreement between Catholicism and libertarianism. The contrary position to this initial objection attempts to justify its simplistic depiction with this explanation, “The Catechism states, ‘The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them.’” This explanation has very little to do with the first objection, since the objection itself was not making a claim against a regime; it was taking issue with a view concerning taxation. Tax policy and political regimes are separate issues.
Following the disjointed comparison of taxation to varieties of political regimes, the idea of ideology is introduced. The answer provided to explain the discrepancy between the objection and the contrary position says, “The Catholic Church does not endorse or exclude one political ideology over the other. Her only goal is the benefit of mankind. The Catechism states that regimes must be in concordance with “…the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons…” as we’ll see here, libertarianism may be the only political system that actually satisfies all of these requirements.”
It is true that the Church does not endorse a governing regime over any other if by regime it is meant a particular form of government that does not violate the eternal law, the natural law, and the common good. However, there is a difference between a regime understood as a form of government, and the ideology informing said regime. The Catholic Church most certainly does exclude political ideologies over others as legitimate options for the express purposes of informing governing regimes. The Church has rejected at least three political and economic ideologies – communism, socialism, and laissez-faire capitalism:
“2425. The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with ‘communism’ or ‘socialism.’ She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of ‘capitalism,’ individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for ‘there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.’ Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.”
It is important to note that the Church has not accepted the tenets of individualism and the primacy of the marketplace over human labor for the very reasons highlighted by the libertarian Summa, that is, it is not in line with natural law, public order, and the fundamental rights of the human person. This is not a novel teaching, it is the political and economic tradition of the Church authoritatively promulgated since Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Noverum.
These references and explanations have established that the first article of the libertarian Summa is disjointed, philosophically minimalist in order to hide legitimate fundamental disagreements between Catholicism and libertarianism, and refutes the suggestion that the Church has not rejected political ideologies in violation of the natural law, public order, and the common good. More importantly, however, is that this first installment has significantly damaged the credibility of the libertarian position because official Church teaching has rejected the libertarian view of the political economy known as laissez-faire capitalism. Contrary to the suggestion that libertarianism is the only political credo that might satisfy the Church’s stipulations concerning social order and the common good, is has been proven to be inadequate right out of the gate.
– Lucas G. Westman
 Matthew 28:18
 Matthew 28:19-20
 Douay-Rheims Commentary
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pg. 512
 Ibid, Pg. 3
 Power and Market, Pg. 1051
 Austrians would reject the claim of economic positivism being used to describe their methods, but the fact remains that they adhere to the same fact/value dichotomy of the positivists they claim to oppose. Moreover, the Misesian praxeological methodology is just as deterministic as the positivist school in the sense that logical deduction necessarily determines economic truths by which humans must act, for if humans were not bound to act by these deductions then praxeology so construed is merely an instrumental suggestion.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pg. 642