829. Is there any portion of the human race intended by nature to be the property of other human beings?
“The absolute oppression of any individual by another violates God’s law. Slavery is an abuse of strength and gradually disappears with progress, as all other abuses will eventually disappear.”
The societal law that sanctions slavery is a crime against nature, because it reduces human beings to the level of animals, and degrades them both physically and morally.
830. When slavery is established in the standards and customs of a nation, are those who profit from it to blame for conforming to a system that appears to be natural to them?
“What is wrong is always wrong, and no amount of sophistry can change a bad deed into a good one. However, the accountability for wrongdoing is always proportional to the ability of the offenders to understand their actions. Those who profit from slavery are always guilty of violating natural law, but this guilt is relative. As slavery became rooted in the civilizations of certain nations, human beings may have taken advantage of it without seeing it as being wrong, and as something that appeared to be natural to them. But once their reason became more developed and enlightened by the teachings of Christianity, and they were shown that slaves are their equal in God’s eyes, their actions were no longer excusable.”
831. Does the natural inequality of aptitudes place some members of the human race under the control of more intelligent members?
“Yes, so that they may rise to a higher level, but not to further degrade them by slavery. People have too long viewed certain ethnic groups as working animals with arms and hands, and believed they have the right to use them and sell them like beasts. They think that they are of purer blood, when they are really fools! Only the spirit is the marker of purity, not blood.” (See nos. 361-803)
832. There are people who treat their slaves humanely. They think that freedom would expose them to greater poverty or deprivation. What do you think of this?
“They have a better understanding of their own interests. They take the same care of their cows and horses to get a better price for them at the market. They are not as guilty as those who treat them badly, but they still treat them as merchandise by depriving them of their freedom.”