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Rerum Novarum. May 15, 1891. [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 8 Sept. 1996]
Long, D. Stephen. “Bernard Dempsey’s Theological Economics: Usury, Profit, and Human Fulfillment.” Theological Studies 57 (December 1996): 690-707.
Maritain, Jacques. “The Sin of Usury.” The Catholic Worker 60 (March-April 1993): 8.
McBrien, Richard P. Catholicism: Study Edition. Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, Inc., 1981.
McInerny, Ralph M. What Went Wrong with Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1997.
McLauglin, T.P., C.S.B. “The Teaching of the Canonists on Usury (XII, XIII, and XIV Centuries).” Mediaeval Studies 1 (1939): 81-147.
Melitz, Jacques. “Some Further Reassessment of the Scholastic Doctrine of Usury.” Kyklos: International Review for Social Services 24 (n. 3, 1971): 473-492.
Most, Rev. William G. “Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics.” [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 14 November 1998]
Nelson, Benjamin. The Idea of Usury: From Tribal Brotherhood to Universal Otherhood. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969.
Noonan, John T., Jr. The Scholastic Analysis of Usury. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1957.
___ “Authority, Usury, and Contraception.” Cross Currents (Winter 1966): 55-79.
___ “Development in Moral Doctrine.” Theological Studies 54 (Dec 1993): 662-678.
O'Neil, Patrick M. “A Response to John T. Noonan, Jr. Concerning the Development of Catholic Moral Doctrine.” Faith & Reason (Spring/Summer 1996).
Palazzini, Msgr. Pietro, ed. “Usury.” Dictionary of Moral Theology. trans. Henry J Yannone. Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1962.
Palm, David J. “The Red Herring of Usury.” This Rock 8 (Sept 1997), 20-23.
Peters, Berry. “Usury, Freedom From Debt and Jubilee.” The Catholic Worker 59 (January-February 1992): 3.
Pius XI, Pope. “On Reconstruction of the Social Order.” Quadragesimo Anno. May 15, 1931. [ONLINE] Available from [accessed 6 May 1996]
Rickaby, Joseph, S.J. “Of Usury.” In Moral Philosophy:Ethics, Deontology and Natural Law. 4th ed. London: Longmans & Green, 1918, 255-263.
Ryan, Franklin W., “Ancient and Medieval Doctrines.” In Usury and Usury Laws. Cambridge, Mass: The Riverside Press, 1924, 37-47.
Shaw, Russell, ed. “Usury.” In OSV’s Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine. Huntington, In: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1997, 690-691.
Siddiqi, Moin A. “Banking on Principles: Islamic Banking System.” The Middle East. (May 1997): 26-29.
Storck, Thomas. “The Problem of Religious Liberty: A New Proposal.” Faith & Reason. (Spring 1989).
Tanner, Norman P. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990.
Temple, Katherine. “Usury Goes to the Movies.” The Catholic Worker 57 (June-July 1990): 4.
Unsworth, Timothy. “What the church has taught about U$ury.” Salt 8 (April 1988): 14-17.
Vermeersch, A. “Interest.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910, 77.
___ “Usury.” In The Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910, 235-238.
White, Andrew Dickson. “From Leviticus To Political Economy.” In The Warfare of Science With Theology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University,1895, XIX, I-II.
Wilson, Rodney. Economics, Ethics and Religion: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Economic Thought. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
Zucker, Lois Miles. S. Ambrosii: De Tobia: A Commentary, with an Introduction and Translation. Washington DC: The Catholic University of America, 1933.

1 Second Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Lumen Gentium (21 November 1964), 25; in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1975).

2 John A. Hardon, “Indefectibility,” Pocket Catholic Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1985), 192; abridged edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary.

3 cf. Second Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,” Dei Verbum, (18 November 1965), 10.

4 John T. Noonan, Jr., The Scholastic Analysis of Usury(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 1; hereafter cited as Usury.

5 John T. Noonan, Jr., Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by Catholic Theologians and Canonists(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966). An enlarged 2nd edition was reprinted in 1986.

6 John T. Noonan, Jr., “Authority, Usury, and Contraception,” Cross Currents (Winter 1966); hereafter cited as “Authority.”

7 “Text of the Statement by Theologians,” New York Times, 31 August 1968, 16; quoted by Ralph M. McInerny, What Went Wrong with Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press,1997); emphasis mine.

8 John T. Noonan, “Development in Moral Doctrine,” Theological Studies 54 (December 1993), 662; hereafter cited as “Development.”This article was based upon a September 29, 1990 lecture given at the Catholic University of America.

9 Thomas F. Divine, S.J., Interest: An Historical and Analytical Study in Economics and Modern Ethics (Milwaukee: The Marquette University Press,1959), 96; hereafter cited as Interest.

10 Rev. William G. Most, Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics(1998), Appendix 1; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 14 November 1998].

11 Jeremy Bentham, Defense of Usury (London: 1918), 96-106, quoted by Noonan, Usury, 376.

12In actual fact, the early Protestant reformers still protested against usury, and Luther condemned interest, until later reformers would change the proscription. Cf. Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, A History of Interest Rates(New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 80.

13 Noonan, “Authority,” 71.

14 Paul Halsall, Syllabus of Papal and Magisterial Errors (1998), version 1.6, sec. B2, 66; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 6 September 1998].

15 Ibid, 71.

16 Cf. chapter three for more information on this encyclical and its prohibition of “all” interest.

17 Canon 1523, 4°says administrators of Church property must use for the benefit of the Church, money which can be invested profitably. Cf. T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J. and Adam C. Ellis, S.J., Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, 2nd ed. (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1951), 826. Many actually misinterpret this Canon according to this commentary: “To invest money means to exchange it for non-consumable and productive goods, such as real estate, stocks, bonds, etc. Money deposited in a bank at call is not considered as invested.” Ibid., 251.

18 Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1994), 2449.

19 Halsall, 83.

20 Andrew Dickson White, “From Leviticus To Political Economy,” The Warfare of Science With Theology (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1895), XIX.2.

21 Ibid., XIX.1.

22 Noonan, “Authority,” 58-59.

23Lois Miles Zucker, S. Ambrosii: De Tobia: A Commentary, with an Introduction and Translation The Catholic University of America Patristic Studies, vol 35 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1933), 65.

24 Ibid., 61.

25 Exodus 22:25, “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him.” Leviticus 25:36-37, “Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God; that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.” All Bible citations are from the Revised Standard Version.

26 Quoted in Jacques Le Goff, Your Money or Your Life: Economy and Religion in the Middle Ages, trans. Patricia Ranum (New York: Zone Books, 1988), 26.

27 Luke 6:25 was translated by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate with clearly phrased legal exactness, “Mutuum date, nihil inde sperantes, ‘Lend hoping nothing thereby.’” David J Palm, “The Red Herring of Usury,” This Rock 8 (September 1997), 21.

28 Psalm 15:1,5 “O LORD, who shall sojourn in thy tent?... He who does not put out his money at interest.”

29 “If any [of the clergy] are found after this decision to receive interest by contract... or in general to devise any other contrivance for the sake of dishonorable gain, they shall be deposed from the clergy and their names struck from the roll.” Nicea (325), Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner, (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), canon 17.

30 “The inclusion of the laity under the prohibition [of 300 A.D.]... is of very dubious authenticity.”William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970), 1:258. Cf. Divine, Interest, 34 and Noonan, Usury, 15.

31Second Lateran Council (1179), Decrees, canon 13.

32 Council of Vienne (1312), Decrees, canon 29.

33 Noonan, “Authority,” 61.

34 T.P. McLauglin, C.S.B., “The Teaching of the Canonists on Usury (XII, XIII, and XIV Centuries),” Mediaeval Studies 1 (1939), 82.

35 Fr. Charles Curran, Origins (1986), 376, quoted by Fr. Matthew Habiger, O.S.B., S.T.D., “Is the Magisterium a Reliable Moral Guide? The Case of Usury,” Social Justice Review (May/June 1989), 73.

36 Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism: Study Edition (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, Inc.,1981), 1020.

37 Timothy Unsworth, “What the Church has Taught About U$ury,” Salt 8 (April 1988), 14.

38 McBrien, 1004.

39 Noonan, “Development,” 673.

40 Second Vatican Council, “Pastoral Constitution: On the Church in the Modern World,” Gaudium et Spes (7 December 1965), 10.

41 Pope John Paul II, “The Splendor of Truth,” Veritatis Splendor (Boston, Pauline Books & Media,1993), 53.

42 Ibid.

43 Second Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Lumen Gentium (21 November 1964), 12.

44 Unsworth, 16.

45 Third Lateran Council (1179), Decrees, Canon 25.

46 Noonan, “Authority,” 72.

47 Noonan, “Development,” 672.

48 “by the same meaning and the same thought” St Vincent of Lerins, “Commonitorium Primum,”c. 23: PL 50, 668; translation mine.

49 John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 53.

50 Noonan, “Development,” 676.

51 Patrick M. O'Neil, “A Response to John T. Noonan, Jr. Concerning the Development of Catholic Moral Doctrine,” Faith & Reason(Ft. Royal, VA: Christendom Press, Spring/Summer 1996); available from, 5.

52 First Vatican Council, Session 3 (24 April 1870), “Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith,” Decrees, chapter 4.

53 Pope John XXIII, “L'Osservatore Romano," (12 October 1962), 2; quoted in John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, footnote 100.

54 Germain Grisez, Christian Moral Principles, vol. 1 of The Way of the Lord Jesus(Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983), 898; hereafter cited as Principles.

55 Noonan, Usury, 360.

56 Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition (Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1983), c. 749.

57 First Vatican Council, Session 4 (18 July 1870), “First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ,” Decrees, Chapter 4. This is also known as teaching ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter).

58 Noonan, “Authority,” 63-64.

59 Pope Pius IX, “On the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception,” Ineffabilis Deus(8 December 1854); [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 24 April 1998]

60 Noonan, “Authority,” 61.

61 Rupert J. Ederer, “Is usury still a problem?” Homiletic and Pastoral Review 84 (Aug-Sept 1984), 13.

62William Cardinal César de la Luzerne, Dissetations sur le pret-de-commerce (1822) Vol. III, Part 2, p.731; quoted by Noonan, Usury, 383.

63 Thescholastics are philosophers and theologians of the medieval European schools, commonly dated from 1060 to 1440, who built upon the writings of the Fathers by incorporating human philosophy together with their writings on divine revelation. Cf. Hardon, “Scholasticism,” 398.

64 Noonan, “Authority,” 61.

65 O’Neil, 11.

66 Ibid, 12-13.

67Double effect is a teaching of theologians, not an official Church teaching; but it is in agreement with the Church’s magisterium, as it is the principle behind self-defense and just war.

68 Germain Grisez, Living a Christian Life, vol. 2 of The Way of the Lord Jesus(Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1993), 902; hereafter cited as Living.

69 Jacques Melitz, “Some Further Reassessment of the Scholastic Doctrine of Usury,” Kyklos: International Review for Social Services 24 (n. 3,1971), 489.

70 Stephen D. Long, “Bernard Dempsey’s Theological Economics: Usury, Profit, and Human Fulfillment,” Theological Studies v54 (Dec 1996), 690.

71 Ibid.

72 Patrick Cleary, The Church and Usury: An Essay on Some Historical and Theological Aspects of Money-Lending(Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, Ltd., 1914), 203. Cf. Noonan, Usury, 195, and chapter three on partnerships which fostered commerce.

73 Noonan, “Authority,” 73. If true, this argument would have obvious implications for other Church teachings. “If these goods could be protected without an absolute rule on contraception, then the rule might be revised.” Noonan, “Authority,” 74.

74 Ibid., 72.

75 Divine, Interest, 32.

76 Bernard W. Dempsey, Interest and Usury (Washington D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1943), 165; hereafter cited as Interest.

77 Melitz, 476. St. Thomas and the Scholastics always treat usury as a sin against justice, not charity.

78Noonan, Usury, 37.

79 Noonan, Usury, 81.

80 McLauglin, 95.

81 Noonan, Usury, 100.

82 Homer and Sylla, 73.

83 Noonan, Usury, 57.

84 Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1947), II-II, q. 78, a. 2.

85 McLauglin, 145.

86 Noonan, Usury, 115.

87 Le Goff, 73.

88Aquinas, II-II, q. 78, a. 1, r. 6. Remember that usury is a charge for the use of money. When a loan is made, the ownership of the money passes to the borrower, and the lender cannot legitimately charge (usury) for something he does not own.

89 Noonan, Usury, 133.

90 Aquinas, II-II, q. 78, a. 2, r. 5. Unfortunately, Thomas did not foresee the infamous “triple contract,” a form of riskless partnership which would “cause one of the fiercest theological controversies of history.” Cleary, 82.

91 Cleary, 117. Cf. McLauglin, 147.

92 Father Arthur Vermeersch, S.J. “Usury,” The Catholic Encyclopedia 15 (New York: Robert Appleton Co., Inc., 1913), 236.

93 Divine, Interest, 56.

94 Cf. McLauglin, 125.

95 Habiger, 75.

96 Dempsey, Interest,171.

97 Rev. B. W. Dempsey, S.J., “Money, Price and Credit” The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas vol 3 (New York: Benzinger Brothers, Inc., 1948), 3374.

98 Divine, Interest, 53.

99 Grisez, Living, 834.

100 Pope Benedict XIV, Vix Pervenit (1 November 1745), 3.I; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 19 April 1997].

101 Ibid., 3.III, 3-4.

102 Codex Juris Canonici (1917), c. 1543; quoted in Divine, Interest, 115, and Habiger, 78.

103 Divine, Interest, 116, referring to Codex Juris Canonici (1917) canon 2354. Cf. Habiger, 78.

104 Unsworth, 16.

105 Grisez, Principles, 893.

106 Ibid., 894.

107 Ederer, 14.

108 Noonan, Usury, 375.

109 Dempsey, Interest, 189.

110 Noonan, “Development,” 663.

111 Divine, Interest, xv-xvi.

112 Ibid., 114.

113In fact, this addition of Aristotle is a contribution of St. Thomas and the West, as others who prohibit usury (e.g. Jews, Islam, and Communism) use very different arguments; cf. Paul E. Gottfried, “The Western Case Against Usury,” Thought 60 (March 1985).

114 Le Goff, 29.

115 Dempsey, Interest, 158; emphasis original.

116 Ibid, 160.

117 Vermeersch, 237.

118 Noonan, Usury, 359.

119 Divine, Interest, 114.

120 Cleary, 198-199.

121 Grisez, Living, 834.

122 Unsworth, 16.

123Aquinas, II-II q. 77, a. 1, r. 1.

124 Msgr. Pietro Palazzini, ed.,“Usury,” Dictionary of Moral Theology, trans. Henry J. Yannone, (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1962), 1262.

125 Habiger, 78.

126 Lateran V (1515), Decrees, session 10; emphasis mine.

127 Russell Shaw, ed., “Usury,” OSV’s Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine(Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1997), 690.

128Fr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J., Moral Philosophy: Ethic, Deontology and Natural Law, 4th ed. (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1918), 261.

129 Palm, 23.

130 Hardon, “Usury,” 445.

131 “Because the moralists failed to understand the changed status of money, legitimate interest rates were still considered to be usury.” Habiger, 78. Was it perhaps the theologians of the day whowere at fault, not the inadequate teaching of the Magisterium?

132Thomas F. Divine, S.J., “Usury,” New Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 14, (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1967), 499; hereafter cited as “Usury.”

133 Owen Aloysius Hill, “Interest,” Ethics: General & Special(New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920), 146; emphasis original.

134 Palazzini, 1262.

135 Jacque Maritain, Review of Social Economy 43 (April 1985); quoted by The Catholic Worker (June-July 1989), 5; emphasis original.

136 Anthony Hulme, Morals and Money (Staten Island, NY: St Paul Publications, 1957), 137.

137 Divine, “Usury,” 499.

138 Cleary, 197.

139 Day, Dorothy, ed. The Catholic Worker. July 1960; reprinted in A Penny a Copy: Readings from The Catholic Worker. ed. by Thomas Cornell, Robert Ellsberg, and Jim Forest. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY; quoted by The Witness 79, (March 1996), 6.

140 Cooperativas Christianas de Mexico, “Usury is a Sin,” The Catholic Worker 60, (March-April 1993), 8.

141 Noonan, “Authority,” 71.

142 Cf. Noonan, “Authority,” 71, 79.

143 Ibid., 172.

144 Cleary, 173.

145 Hilaire Belloc, “On Usury,” Essays of a Catholic (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1992), 15.

146 Gottfried, 96.

147 Mario De Solenni, “Usury: The Rise and Fall of a Moral Idea,” Triumph (December 1971), 26.

148 Ederer, 20.

149 Maritain, 1.

150 Ibid., 5.

151 Pope Leo XIII, “On the Condition of the Working Classes,” Rerum Novarum (15 May,1891), 6; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 8 Sept. 1996].

152 De Solenni, 25.

153Pope Pius XI, “On Reconstruction of the Social Order,” Quadragesimo Anno (15 May, 1931), 106; [ONLINE] Available from [accessed 6 May 1996].

154 Aquinas, II-II, q. 55, a. 6.

155 Raymond De Roover, “Scholastic Economics: Survival and Lasting Influence from the Sixteenth Century to Adam Smith,” Business, Banking, and Economic Thought: in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by Julius Kirshner, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974), 308.

156 Leo XIII, 36; quoting Aquinas, II-II, q. 65, a. 2.

157 Katherine Temple, “Usury goes to the Movies,” The Catholic Worker 57 (June-July 1990), 4; emphasis original.

158 De Solenni, 27.

159 Maritain, 5.

160 Noonan, Usury, 399.

161 Ibid., 404.

162 Ederer, 19.

163 Marla Dickerson, “Islamic Banking Makes a Return,” The Sun (Baltimore, MD: 7 June 1999), 2A.

164 Moin A. Siddiqi, “Banking on Principles: Islamic Banking System,” The Middle East (May 1997), 26.

165 Pope John Paul II, “As the Third Millennium Draws Near,” Tertio Millennio Adveniente (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1994), 51.

166Pope John Paul II, General Audience of April 14, 1999; Vatican Information Service, “John Paul II’s Severe Condemnation of Usury,”1; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 16 April 1999].

167 “The practice of arranging private loans at exorbitant interest rates has become common in Italy during recent years.”General Audience of September 10, 1997; Catholic World News, “Pope Denounces Usury,” 1; [ONLINE]. Available from [accessed 6 May 1999].

168 Hulme, 1.

169 Pope John Paul II, “On Human Work,” Laborem Exercens (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1981), 79.

170 Benedict XIV, 3.V.

171 Pope John Paul II, “On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum,” Centesimus Annus(Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1991) 33.

172 Noonan, Usury, 295.

173 John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 49; paraphrased.

174 Noonan, Usury, 407.

175 Noonan, Usury, 406.

176 Noonan, Usury, 399-400.

177 Cleary, 201.

178 Matthew 16:18-19.

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