There appears to be a new interest in Distributism, possibly because of Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium.” Arthur Hunt in The American Conservative puts the Pope’s message into the context of Catholic social teaching. “The problems of the poor could not be solved by a “simple welfare mentality.” Well, by what then? The document is clear: “a better distribution of income.” And how might this be achieved? Through the “right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good,” to exercise some control against an “absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” Following is the article in full:…The word distributism does not appear in the treatise, and nowhere does Francis fall back on his predecessors or Catholic intellectuals who have supported a third way of economic ordering. Nevertheless, policies that allow for the flourishing of smaller economic units while at the same time valuing work and broader property ownership are consistent with Catholic social teaching. Francis, after all, is only one of several modern Popes to have criticized capitalism. At the apex of the Industrial Revolution Pope Leo XIII addressed the disparity between the rich and the poor in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, setting forth the proper duties between worker and employer. Workers were to faithfully perform their duties and refrain from acts of violence and destruction of property. Employers were to pay a living wage, provide time off for religious days and holidays, and respect workers according to ability, age, and gender. In addition to promoting the dignity of the worker, the encyclical asserted that owning property was a basic human right according to natural law. The employer has a right to property, but the laborer should be able to advance so that he too could own property.