- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Georgetown University Press (August 12, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1589010531
- ISBN-13: 978-1589010536
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations
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"A superb contribution to Catholic social ethics and will undoubtedly serve as a basic text, providing a synthetic statement of the last century of the Catholic social tradition . . . It has no peer."―America
"An invaluable contribution . . . Until now there has been no comprehensive text on the history, development and content of the social teaching of the Catholic Church."―Catholic Library World
"This volume belongs on the bookshelf of anyone seriously interested in Catholic social teaching . . . There is nothing else like this collection. It will endure."―Journal of Church and State
"In assembling this extraordinarily ambitious reference work, [the editors] have done a great service to professors and students alike. Many Catholic academics intuit the potential for a rich dialogue between CST and their particular disciplines, but have been without concise, accurate analyses to help them make the connections. Modern Catholic Social Teaching will go a long way toward filling this gap . . . a valuable contribution to the literature."―Commonweal
"This is indeed a must-have book for anyone teaching or studying Catholic social ethics."―Teaching Theology & Religion
"This is a truly excellent volume of wide-ranging scholarship that cannot be over-praised.Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education "―Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education
"This invaluable volume assembles the most respected experts in Catholic social ethics and covers its subject in a comprehensive way. Not only does it treat the full range of topics one might anticipate, but it goes beyond the expected to offer original and creative insights regarding a venerable tradition of reflection upon life in society. The quality of the contributions is consistently outstanding. No teacher of Catholic ethics should be without this extraordinary resource, which promises to be a standard reference in the field for many years to come.
This volume represents a monumental achievement. Long have we awaited such a comprehensive treatment of Catholic social teaching from an American perspective. To describe this volume, I would eagerly apply the label 'definitive' if I were not so sure that the authors would dismiss this adjective as inappropriate for a commentary on a living, growing tradition of thought."―Thomas Massaro, SJ, associate professor of moral theology, Weston Jesuit School of Theology
"I believe in a Catholic conscience, the power of imagination, and the need for building Catholic communities of concern. This book will help Catholic lay women and men better understand how to turn their faith into action. In the present, as in the past, Catholic social teaching is a gift to the world. Throughout these pages, the authors apply their wisdom to the important questions of our day, as well as the past, including the puzzle of why our church sometimes fails to live the social justice message it teaches."―James E. Post, president of Voice of the Faithful
"Kenneth Himes and colleagues have produced what is arguably the single best collection of commentaries on the major documents of Catholic social teaching, and bracketed them within a series of critical essays on the theological, ecclesial, and historical meaning of this developing tradition. An extraordinary resource for scholars and students alike, Modern Catholic Social Teaching offers a thoroughgoing and in-depth analysis of fourteen of the modern Church's most important social documents as well as a comprehensive examination of Catholic social thought from Rerum Novarum to Centesimus Annus and beyond."―Patrick McCormick, associate professor of religious studies, Gonzaga University
"This volume offers synthetic insights into the documentary heritage of modern Catholic social teaching from some of the most respected scholars in the field. The commentaries and essays stand on their own, ready for use in undergraduate and graduate courses across the disciplines. This text will become a standard resource for scholars, students, and pastoral ministers seeking a deeper grounding in the historical context and development of Catholic social teaching texts."―Margaret R. Pfeil, assistant professor of moral theology, University of Notre Dame
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Father Kenneth Himes and his associate editors have compiled "Modern Catholic Social Teaching" as an introduction for thoughtful Catholics and all interested parties into the significant texts of CST. "Modern" is an important qualifier. Social Justice was taught by the Master himself, on the value of a shared cup of cold water. In the post-Industrial Revolution era, however, there is more complexity about who owns the cup, the well, and the filtration system. Father Himes takes the lead from John Paul II, who identifies Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum"  as the first of the modern magisterial pronouncements. The editors select fourteen Church social justice documents for analysis, beginning with Leo and ending, appropriately enough, with John Paul's "Centesimus Annus" exactly one century later.
The majority of the documents come from the pens of sitting popes. Some very notable exceptions are "Gaudium et Spes" from the Vatican II corpus and the intriguing "Justitia in Mundo," product of the 1971 world synod of bishops. While the texts themselves--easily obtainable on line--are not included in the volume for reasons of practicality, each receives at least a thirty page analysis addressing its sitz-im-leben or historical setting, a point by point highlight of key subject matter, commentary, and public reception and reaction at the time of publishing. As encyclicals and documents have become a prime literary teaching instrument in today's Catholic Church, it is noteworthy that, judging from this anthology, theologians are developing a method of exegesis for magisterial texts, analogous to the art of contemporary Biblical textual study.
I would go out on a limb and conjecture that most Catholics have never read a papal encyclical, particularly one on the subject of CST. [Catholic presidential candidate Al Smith in 1928 threw up his hands at the mention of the word.] The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has, in fact, cherry-picked from these documents a "Compendium" by subject, published in 2004. And there is probably a catechetical inevitability in the simplification of the original documents.
But this volume captures the full organic unfolding of a different teaching algorithm. Not until Leo XIII did Catholic teaching systematically and aggressively address actual world conditions of pain and inequality. Leo, admittedly, did not wander too far from familiar historical and scholastic shores, but few are aware of the primacy of private property in his thought, clearly a counterbalance to nineteenth century's Marx and Engels.
By contrast, the pontiff of the nuclear cold war, John XXIII, released his "Pacem in Terris" in 1963, less than one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. John's thinking and style--criticized by some at the time as utopian--was profoundly influenced by the realization that the ante of social morality had been exponentially raised by the very real possibility of planetary holocaust. Thus, he expanded the papal teaching role to "all men of good will," a literary and attitudinal departure that would profoundly impact the documents issuing from Vatican II.
Not surprisingly the teachings of John Paul II command considerable attention in this work. Clearly more philosophical than his immediate predecessors, John Paul II's reign spanned a remarkable turn in the world's arrangement, most notably the collapse of the Iron Curtain but also the revolution in world communications. No coincidence that Thomas Friedman's "The Earth is Flat" appeared the year of his death. As universal teacher, the pontiff faced considerable challenge on multiple fronts: how to preserve the dignity of the human being in the face of rapidly evolving cultural change, and upon what principles to establish a world economy with the demise of Communist state-controlled systems.
With regard to human dignity, the editors turn attention to "Familiaris Consortio" This 1981 encyclical followed the bishops' synod on marriage and the family. Its reiteration of traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality, as well as its innovative concept of "the domestic church," has obstructed its social justice implications. John Paul reaffirms and elaborates traditional Catholic thinking on the family, but at the same time he argues that every family has the right to thrive, that outside economic or cultural factors that would disrupt the family are ipso facto at odds with the divine plan. With regard to post Cold War economics, the editors turn to "Centesimus Annus." This 1991 centenary tribute to "Rerum Novarum" is remembered as something of a qualified endorsement of a just capitalism, though theologian Daniel Finn takes the reader through the many influences upon this document, not least of which was a quarter century of bishops' pastorals on matters of peace and justice.
This volume is considerably enriched by four introductory essays on Scripture, natural law, ecclesiology, and Catholic social thought, 1740-1890. Of particular note is the first, from Biblical scholar John Donahue, S.J., who offers wise cautions about the uses and misuses of Biblical theology in the evolving methodology of modern Catholic social justice theology. In reviewing the above mentioned "Compendium," I was struck by the footnotes, which are nearly exclusively sourced to other recent magisterial documents. One is hard put to find Biblical source material, or writings of the Fathers, for that matter.
"Modern Catholic Social Teaching" is an excellent introduction to the genre and sweep of CST over the past century. Its editors and authors maintain a critical and even-handed analysis; the bibliography is highly useful. It is the very content of the magisterial texts that will cause discomfort: there is something here to strain every conscience.