Employing the new empirical rigor exemplified by the social magisterium of John Paul II, Catholic social ethicists of the 21st century would recognize that life expectancy is increasing on a global basis, including the Third World; that water and air in the developed world are clearner than in five hundred years; that fears of chemicals poisoning the earth are wildly exaggerated; that both energy and food are cheaper and more plentiful throughout the world than ever before; that "overpopulation" is a myth; that the global picture is, in truth, one of unprecedented human prosperity-- and, recognizing these facts, Catholic social ethicists would ask, why? What creates wealth and distributes it broadly? What are the systemic political, economic and cultural factors that have created this unprecedented prosperity, which is not (contrary to the shibboleths) limited to a shrinking, privileged elite? What can be done to make this prosperity even more broadly available?
--George Weigel, "The Free and Virtuous Society", in Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace, 2008