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Patristic Socialism?: Ambrose of Milan and Catholic Social Teaching on Private Property

James Bergida

Abstract


Despite claims that modern Catholic social teaching has supplanted the church fathers’ teaching on private property, this article argues for greater continuity with regard to Ambrose of Milan in particular. Ambrose’s moral teaching on property is in large measure consistent with that of modern Catholic social teaching. While Ambrose does not affirm the prelapsarian legitimacy of private property, he does (as does Catholic social teaching) affirm its practical, postlapsarian legitimacy, even while emphasizing the duties of property owners toward those in need.

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