The ownership, use and sale of productive property has become a right of the individual rather than a privilege. The context out of which decisions are made about ownership has been reduced to a tension between individual or corporate self-interest and benevolent good will, both of which are often two sides of self satisfaction. Concern for the larger economy, global ecology or other transnational issues is a function of other pressures, like political awareness of the environment.
18 land owners own 75 percent of the state of Maine, USA. These landowners pay only 0.2 percent of the state's taxes.
In defending the principle of private ownership the Church is striving after an important ethico-social end. She does not intend merely to uphold the present condition of things as if it were an expression of the divine Will, or to protect on principle the rich and plutocrats against the poor and indigent ... The Church aims rather at securing that the institution of private property be such as it should be according to the plan of the divine Wisdom and the dispositions of Nature." Hence private ownership must be considered as a guarantee of the essential freedom of the individual, and at the same time an indispensable element in a true social order. We should notice at this point that the right of private ownership is clearly sanctioned by the Gospel. Yet at the same time, the divine Master frequently extends to the rich the insistent invitation to convert their material goods into spiritual ones by conferring them on the poor (Papal Encyclical, Mater et Magistra, 15 May 1961).
But Catholic wisdom, sustained by the precepts of natural and divine law, provides with especial care for public and private tranquility in its doctrines and teachings regarding the duty of government and the distribution of the goods which are necessary for life and use. For, while the socialists would destroy the "right" of property, alleging it to be a human invention altogether opposed to the inborn equality of man, and, claiming a community of goods, argue that poverty should not be peaceably endured, and that the property and privileges of the rich may be rightly invaded, the Church, with much greater wisdom and good sense, recognizes the inequality among men, who are born with different powers of body and mind, inequality in actual possession, also, and holds that the right of property and of ownership, which springs from nature itself, must not be touched and stands inviolate. (Papal Encyclical, Quod Apostolici Muneris, 1878).