August 7th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Implications of the Labor-Green preference swap

POLITICAL PARTIES: Greens declare war on non-govt schools

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Christians launch the Canberra Declaration

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Julia Gillard's dwindling policy options

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: A future fund to secure Australia's prosperity

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: The PPL assault on the family: a solution

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Timorese leaders reject Gillard's asylum scheme

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Wikileaks points to Pakistan, Iran support for Taliban

TAIWAN: Could China trade pact reduce cross-strait tension?

ESPIONAGE: The unreported history of intelligence wars

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: The heritage of Western civilisation

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Saying yes to heterosexual marriage

OPINION: What Julia Gillard really thinks about men

SCHOOLS: Gillard's dumbed-down, PC approach to geography

Labor using dodgy tactics (letter)

Accessories to murder (letter)

What usury really means (letter)

The DLP and Stalinism in the ALP (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: The gathering storm.

BOOK REVIEW: THE MANCHURIAN PRESIDENT: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists


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What usury really means (letter)

by Peter D. Howard

News Weekly, August 7, 2010

There might be a confusion of the term "usury" with the taking of reasonable interest in John Cooney's letter (News Weekly, July 24).

With developing free enterprise, the Catholic Church defined what is meant by usury. Session X of the Fifth Lateran Council (1515) gave its exact meaning: "For that is the real meaning of usury: when, from its use, a thing which produces nothing is applied to the acquiring of gain and profit without any work, any expense or any risk."

For a long time, the choice for one's money in our world-economy is never simply between spending and hoarding, for money can always been invested in any number of genuinely profitable ("fruitful") enterprises.

The Franciscan St Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) was perhaps the first theologian to recognise that time of use had an economic value and, at least in certain cases, might be licitly compensated.

St Antoninus (1389-1459), a Dominican of Florence, seems to have questioned whether Aristotle was correct in saying that money is naturally sterile. Money alone, he said, is sterile, but, combined with knowledge and enterprise, it is fruitful. His Summa Moralis examined commerce and banking, and prepared the way for modern notions of interest, which generally regard proper returns on loans taken with just title as fair.

Today, the term "usury" is usually reserved for taking excessive (i.e., unusually high for the economic conditions) interest on a loan because of someone's circumstances: The greed of the lender takes unjust advantage of the weakness or ignorance of the borrower. [See Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine, Our Sunday Visitor].

Peter D. Howard,
Springwood, Qld

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