Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Happened to the Sin of Usury?

For certainly it appears that usury is no longer a sin that Christians need to worry about. But there is something curious about saying the Church’s teaching has changed. When did this occur? When did usury in the sense which we mean by it here cease to be a sin? If we look in the first half of the nineteenth century as the best place to locate such a change, we find no statement by the Church during that time that says anything about repudiating the teaching of Vix pervenit... Even John Noonan, in an article written expressly for the purpose of proving that there had been changes, or developments as he called them, in moral doctrine, admits: “Formally it can be argued that the old usury rule, narrowly construed, still stands: namely, that no profit on a loan may be taken without a just title to that profit.”[38] It is true that he continues, “in terms of emphasis, of perspective, of practice, the old usury rule has disappeared.”... One can certainly find a nearly universal practical neglect of the question of usury, but one looks in vain to find that the Church ever retracted, abrogated, or substantially altered her teaching on usury.

-Is Usury Still a Sin, The Distributionist Review