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Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1589010536
ISBN-10: 1589010531
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Editorial Reviews


"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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Product Details

  • 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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries & Interpretations is a collection of essays by respected experts in Catholic social ethics. An intensely scholarly text covering such topics as natural law in Catholic social teachings, early modern Roman Catholic social thought in 1740-1890, numerous commentaries on documents written by Popes such as "Populorum Progressio" (On the Development of Peoples) and "Gaudium et spes" (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), and much more, Modern Catholic Social Teaching examines texts and schools of thought both in the context of their era and the modern day. The theological ponderings are spelled out as succinctly as possible for such often complex concepts, in this excellent resource text for theological and historical students of Catholic tradition and instruction.
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In today's Orlando Sentinel [October 19, 2012] I happened to catch an opinion piece discussing Vice President Joe Biden's recent vice-presidential debate with fellow Catholic Paul Ryan. Biden described "the Catholic social teaching" of the Church as formative of his political stance. Jonah Goldberg, commenting on the debate, described Biden's understanding of Catholic Social Teaching or CST as "badly garbled." Perhaps Uncle Joe can be forgiven, for CST, more than we like to admit, is an umbrella of considerable size and complexity, with something to confound every political, economic, and philosophical outlook.

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" [1891] 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.
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I am taking a gradute course in Catholic Social Teaching. I used this book in a research paper on the papal encyclical "Quadragesimo Anno." It is a wonderful resource that I plan to use again and again. It is very readable for the layman who just wants to understand our Catholic Social tradition better. I love this book!
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Modern Catholic Social Teaching was written, as the chief editor Ken Himes notes, in a uniquely collaborative effort that, to my mind, epitomizes the best of Catholic values, stressing individual dignity, the value of tradition and the importance of communal, collaborative work. Each is well researched, well written and carefully argues its position. The essays are an excellent review of current Catholic thinking on a range of issues. My own area of interest and expertise is war and nonviolence; the commentary on "Pacem in Terris" by Drew Christiansen, SJ, is excellent and offers an in-depth look at Catholic teaching on war and nonviolence. In the final section of this compilation, an excellent essay by Todd Hollenbach reviews the just war and nonviolence traditions and points to some directions for further development in the future. Overall, I find this book a most useful resource (I am a Catholic peace activist and occasional tutor of Catholic social teaching in my parish) and a great wealth of material for reflection and prayer.
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