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Introduction to the Social Doctrine of the Church

Welcome to Introduction to the Social Doctrine of the Church. Here we have put together some material to help you do the course at your own pace, whenever you like and wherever you are. We hope you enjoy it!

 

 

COURSE OVERVIEW

The Church receives from the Gospel the full revelation of the truth about man. In fulfilling her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, the Church bears witness to human dignity and our vocation to the communion of persons, teaching us the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom.

The social doctrine of the Church developed in the nineteenth century when the Gospel encountered modern industrial society. Its doctrine on economic and social matters attests the permanent value of the Church’s teaching at the same time as it attests its living and active Tradition. The Church’s social teaching comprises a body of doctrine which is articulated as the Church interprets events in the course of history, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in the light of the whole of what has been revealed by Jesus Christ. The Church’s social teaching proposes principles for reflection; provides criteria for judgment; and gives guidelines for action. (CCC, 2419-2423)

In this course we will examine some of the fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, drawing on the Church’s Magisterium and particularly the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We will look at the Church’s Social Doctrine in more detail in relation to three important areas: the family, and economic and political life.

This course covers the following:

​​SESSIONS
Session 1 | Introduction to the Social Doctrine of the Church
Session 2 | Principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Session 3 | The Family and Society
Session 4 | Work and Economic Life
Session 5 | The Political Community

COURSE MATERIAL

​Course Notes | VIEW

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the ChurchVIEW

Catechism of the Catholic Church |  VIEW

Conversations With Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer | VIEW

Links to further readings and videos are available under each section.

 

SESSION 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH
Recommended Reading

Course Notes, Chapter 1.

FURTHER READING

E. E. Smith, ‘There’s More to Life Than Being Happy’, The Atlantic, 9 January 2013. | VIEW

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 20-104, 197-208, 541-583.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1701-42, 1877-82, 1886-9, 1897-1904, 1928, 1954-60,  2032-2040, 2419-25.

VIDEOS 

Who We Are: Human Uniqueness and the African Spirit of UbuntuVIEW

CST 101: Rights and ResponsibilitiesVIEW 

SESSION 2: PRINCIPLES OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

The Church has enunciated some principles that, when practiced, promote human flourishing and allow us to reach our end, as individuals and together. The key principles of the Church’s social teaching are Human Dignity, the Common Good, Subsidiarity and Solidarity. We will also study the principles of Participation, the Universal Destination of Goods, the Preferential Option for the Poor, Promotion of Peace and Stewardship of Creation. We can appreciate the principles in their unity and interrelatedness.

 

Recommended Reading

 

Course Notes, Chapter 2.

FURTHER READING

Resources on each of the nine principles are available to the right.

VIDEOS

CST in Three MinutesVIEW

1. Dignity and Life

‘The root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God.’ Gaudium et Spes, 19.

FURTHER READING

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 105-159.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1701-1709; 1929-1938; 2258-2301.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, 8.9.2008. |  VIEW

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Vitae on Respect for Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day, 22.2.1987. | VIEW

Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae, 25.3.1995. | VIEW

William May ‘What is a Person and Who Counts as a Person? A Crucial Question for Bioethics’ | VIEW

VIDEOS

CST 101: Life and DignityVIEW

The Pope’s Seven Most Tender Messages to Grandparents  |  VIEW

 

2. The Common Good

‘To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it.’ Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 7.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 164-170.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1905-1912.

3. Subsidiarity

“A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” CCC, 1883.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 185-188.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1878-1885.

VIDEOS

SubsidiarityVIEW

4. Solidarity

Solidarity is ‘ is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.’ John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38. Also articulated in terms of “friendship” or “social charity,” it is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood. CCC, 1939.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 192-196.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1939-1942.

VIDEOS

CST 101: SolidarityVIEW 

5. Participation

‘”Participation” is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person.’ CCC, 1913.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 189-191.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1913-1917.

VIDEO

CST 101: The Call to Family, Participation and CommunityVIEW 

6. The Universal Destination of Goods

‘God intended the earth with everything contained in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should be in abundance for all in like manner…. Man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others’. Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 69.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 171-181.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2401-2414.

Bishop Robert Barron, Pope Francis, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ and the Universal Destination of Goods, 2.11.2020. | VIEW

VIDEO

Bishop Barron on Pope Francis and Our Responsibility for the Common GoodVIEW

7. Preferential Option for the Poor

‘In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.’ CCC, 2448.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 182-184.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2443-2449.

VIDEOS

CST 101: Preferential Option for the PoorVIEW 

Preferential Option for the PoorVIEW  

8. Promotion of Peace

‘Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is “the tranquillity of order.” Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.’ CCC, 2304.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 488-520.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2302-2317.

VIDEO

Promotion of PeaceVIEW

9. Stewardship of Creation

‘The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.’ CCC, 2415.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 451-487.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2415-2418.

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, 24.5.2015. |  VIEW 

VIDEO

CST 101: Care for CreationVIEW

SESSION 3: THE FAMILY AND SOCIETY

 

 

Recommended Reading

RECOMMENDED READING
Course Notes, Chapter 3.

FURTHER READING:

Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2201-33; 2331-91; 1601-58.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, nn. 209-254.

Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 7.12.1965, nn. 47-52.  |  VIEW

Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter on the Regulation of Birth, Humanae Vitae, 25.7.1968. |  VIEW

Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, Familiaris Consortio, 22.11.1981. |  VIEW

Holy See, Charter of the Rights of the Family, 22,10.1983. |  VIEW

Pope Francis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family, Amoris Laetitia, 19.3.2016. |  VIEW

Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them. A Theology of the Body. Boston: Pauline Press, 2006.

On Education

Vatican Council II, Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimus Educationis, 28.10.1965. |  VIEW

Congregation for Catholic Education, Educational Guidance in Human Love: Outlines for Sex Education, 1.11.1983. |  VIEW

Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family, 8.12.1995. |  VIEW

On ‘Same-Sex Marriage’

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Persona Humana, 29 12 1975. |  VIEW

Congregation tor the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1.10.1986. |  VIEW

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, 28.3.2003. |  VIEW

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Response to a dubium Regarding the Blessing of the Unions of Persons of the Same Sex, 15.03.2021. |  VIEW

Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, NY: Encounter Books, 2020.


VIDEOS

CST 101: The Call to Family, Participation and CommunityVIEW 

Pope Francis: Go and Visit Your Grandparents |  VIEW

SESSION 4: WORK AND ECONOMIC LIFE

‘Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community, in particular must also take responsibility’. Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n. 36.

 

Recommended Reading

Course Notes, Chapter 4.

FURTHER READINGS

On Work

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 255-322.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2172, 2184-2188; 2424-2436.

Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Laborem Exercens, 14.9.1981. |  VIEW

On Economic Life

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 323-376.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2424-2436.

Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 1.5.1991. |  VIEW

Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 29.6.2009. |  VIEW

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, 3.10.2020. |  VIEW


VIDEOS

CST 101: Dignity and Rights of WorkersVIEW

Video: Bishop Barron on Pope Francis and Our Responsibility for the Common GoodVIEW

SESSION 5: THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY
Recommended Reading

RECOMMENDED READING
Course Notes, Chapter 5.


FURTHER READING

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 377-427.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1897-1904; 2234-2246.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, 24.11.2002. |  VIEW

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, 3.10.2020. |  VIEW

The Australian Constitution |  VIEW

Australian Citizenship Booklet: Our Common Bond |  VIEW

Australian Citizenship Practice Test  | VIEW

FRATELLI TUTTI
Recommended Reading

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, 3.10.2020. |  VIEW

Short Summary of Fratelli Tutti  |  VIEW

Long Summary of Fratelli Tutti |  VIEW

Anna Rowlands, ‘The Architecture of Peace: Pope Francis on Social Friendship and the Hope for Universal Fraternity’, ABC Religion and Ethics, 18.10.2020. |  VIEW

​VIDEOS

Fratelli Tutti  | VIEW