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Polemics & Exchanges

The Slavery Issue

I am writing to register a complaint about Clyde Wilson’s review “Neither Devil nor Mystery” (June).  My complaint might be unfounded, which I hope it is, since I have found Chronicles to be one of the only magazines to publish excellent and thoughtful articles about unpopular but important topics.  But if my complaint turns out to be legitimate, I may have to cancel my subscription.

It seems to me that in his article Dr. Wilson makes the argument that owning slaves is a completely acceptable form of societal structure, and is not explicitly condemned in the Bible.  Is Dr. Wilson saying this?  If so, I can only state the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is part of a larger discussion about the Seventh Commandment in that text:

The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason—selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian—lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity.  It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit.  St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave “no longer as a slave...

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