The recently published Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church specifies a vision of a just society and through its pages it provides a way on how this could be achieved.
It speaks of a middle road between corporate capitalism and socialism. It argues against "the treachery hidden within a development that is only quantitative for the excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of possession and of immediate gratification. This so-called civilisation of consumption" (no 334).
Such theories in Australia have been ignored by the major political parties while some Catholics, in particular B.A. Santamaria, proclaimed them loudly and clearly. It is therefore no surprise that the 2005 Thomas More Centre Summer School's international speaker, John Sharpe, is an advocate of the Church's middle road as well as an admirer of B.A. Santamaria.
Mr Sharpe, who is Director of IHS Press, will be visiting Australia with his wife Randa to give a series of lectures and seminars in February hosted by the Thomas More Centre and Freedom Publishing.
Born in 1971, he is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy of Annapolis in Maryland. Subsequently, he graduated from Naval College and served on the USS Atlanta where he was decorated with several naval medals. But his interest was primarily in Christian social thought and as a result of this he co-founded IHS Press with its exclusive focus on Catholic social teachings.
Since then IHS Press has reprinted, with modern introductions, out of print texts inspired by the Church's social teachings. Among the well-known authors are G.K. Chesterton, Vincent McNabb and Heinrich Pesch.
John Sharpe will first address the Annual National Civic Council Conference dinner on the topic of Catholicism, Protestantism and Capitalism. The dinner is limited to National Civic Council delegates and by invitation only. However, there will be many other opportunities to hear him.
On Monday evening he will speak at a public lecture to be held at a university. The venue and topic to be advised.
On Tuesday morning, in conjunction with the Thomas More Centre, Sharpe will address a breakfast on the topic, "The Third Way: Distributism and the New Politics." This breakfast, strongly supported by two minor political parties, will accommodate only limited numbers.
The following morning, John's wife Randa will speak at the National Civic Council Women's Breakfast on the topic, "The Public Image of Women: Expectation or Exploitation." John Sharpe will also give a public address in Ballarat as well as a "Justice in the Pub" lecture at Ballan with teachers and parents on the topic "Teaching Social Justice to Children."
By the end of the week, and no doubt with a handle on the Australian accent and Western District hospitality, John Sharpe will open the Thomas More Summer School, to be chaired by Western Region Bishop, Dr Mark Coleridge.
The Thomas More Summer School continues into Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 February with its theme, "The Eucharist: Call to Catholic Action".
The Summer School will also feature Mike Willesee, Claire Lindorff, and John and Kate Collins. The School will also run a children's program as an inducement to families with children to attend. In fact, children under 15 are free.
John Sharpe's visit will help the Thomas More Centre, Catholics in Melbourne and all people of good will to see that there is an alternative to the free market economies of our day in the shape of the Catholic Church's social teachings, as highlighted in the Compendium.
For a comprehensive program please call the Thomas More Centre on (03) 9326 5757.