Articles About Catholic Social Teaching

Christianity's Indispensable Social Teaching

Modern Catholic social teaching is generally traced back to Pope Leo XIII (who reigned from 1878–1903) and, especially, to his great encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891). This encyclical built on the work of socially aware bishops and thinkers, especially from Germany, France, and the United States. As the encyclical's title suggests, it focused on the new social and political situation that had emerged in Europe over the course of the nineteenth century, and it spelled out a set of broad principles that were drawn from the natural law and concerned the rights and obligations of workers, employers, and the state. It repudiated socialism and defended the right to private property and enterprise, supported workers' rights to a just wage and to organization in unions, and insisted on the importance of the family and the beneficial role of voluntary organizations in modern society. It caused a great stir at the time, but it is interesting how much of it we have now come to take for granted.

The Church's Social Teaching is One Consistent Body of Thought

The debate over the application of the core teachings of the Christian faith began when Jesus was presented with a Roman coin containing Caesar's image. In that moment, the Lord drew both a limitation to the legitimate power of the state, and a distinction between it and the supreme authority of Almighty God.

Catholic teaching’s pro-union bias

There is a long-standing bias in Catholic social teaching toward unions, and this dates from the long history of labor struggles for fair wages and safe working conditions. There is a romance associated with this history, and it is bound up with strong moral concerns. And it is not just historical. The Catholic Church played a heroic role in the fall of Communism in Poland through its influence on labor unions that were striking against oppression, which is to say state coercion.

Back to School on Catholic Social Teaching

In towns across America, students returned to school lastweek. Many returned to government schools, others to charter or privateschools, and some 2.4 million entered the halls of Catholic schools.

Benedict XVI and the Irrelevance of 'Relevance'

Over the soon-to-be seven years of Benedict XVI’s papacy, it’s been instructive to watch the shifting critiques of this pontificate. Leaving aside the usual suspects convinced that Catholicism should become what amounts to yet another liberal-Christian sect fixated with transitory politically-correct causes, the latest appraisal is that “the world” is losing interest in the Catholic Church. A variant of this is the claim that the Irish government’s 2011 decision to closing its embassy to the Holy See reflects a general decline in the Church’s geopolitical “relevance.”