Religion: Teacher Yes, Mother No

Protestants may be galled by the pretensions of the Roman Catholic Church, but they can ill afford to sneer at Catholic social doctrine, because it is vastly superior to Protestant vacillation between pragmatism and perfectionism. So holds Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, whose perennial willingness to stick out his political and theological neck is one of Protestantism's glories. To make his point, he analyzes Pope John's recent encyclical, Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher), which broadened Catholicism's alignment on the side of the welfare state and endorsed a measure of "socialization" (TIME, July 21).

The Roman Catholic Church, Niebuhr writes in the Christian Century,...

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