"In this long day of spirit let song be night and the showering of notes stars in that beloved firmament"- From Al Young’s The John Coltrane Dance
Social Justice in our modern world
Social Justice: fuller life in a fairer world
by by Dr Bruce Duncan
Bruce Duncan shows how strongly the Church insists that concern for social justice is a core element of Christian faith, as is evident in the Scriptures and the life of Jesus. He then traces how the Church promotes social justice in our modern world, confronted by new problems, from climate change to economic crises. He sketches the history and key elements of social justice thinking.
Throughout the narrative powerful quotes encapsulate key themes, and the author sketches pen pictures of some of the champions of social justice, including key lay men and women. For even the popes did not develop their social encyclicals alone, but in response to the pioneering efforts of Christian activists.
Excellent Mapping of Catholic Social Thinking
Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret
by Edward P DeBerri and James E Hug, with Peter J Henriot and Michael J Schulteis (Washington DC: Orbis Books & Center of Concern, 2003, 4th ed. revised and expanded. pp. 238).
This is a wonderful resource for people seriously interested in Catholic social thinking, giving a summary of the major social documents and references to websites so people can download and read the full texts. Its first five short chapters give a context for the documents, and it finishes with some study guides and a useful bibliography.
Not only does this book cover the major papal documents from Pope Leo XIII (1891) and Second Vatican Council statements, it includes several documents from the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace and the 1971 Synod of Bishops in Rome. It is unique in including statements by the US Catholic bishops’ conference, along with major statements from the bishops of Mexico, Canada, Central and Latin America, Brazil, and England and Wales. There are also important episcopal statements from Africa, Zambia and South Africa, along with some from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ conferences, and even a 1998 one from Australia on human rights.
Highly recommended as a guide to find and access key topics.
Best of the Commentaries
Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries & Interpretations
Kenneth R. Himes OFM (ed) et al. (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2004, pp. 563).
This splendid and very substantial collection draws from many of the leading English-speaking writers on Catholic social thinking, and gives a detailed commentary on the major documents from Pope Leo XIII to John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus. The authors of these commentaries include Thomas A Shannon, John P Langan SJ, Marvin L Mich, Drew Christiansen SJ, Lisa Sowle Cahill, David Hollenbach SJ, Patricia Lamoureux, Daniel Finn and Charles Curran. Each essay is structured to give an outline of the document, along with the social and ecclesial context at the time. They then consider the process of writing the document, examining its themes in some detail, considering reactions to the document and giving a bibliography.
The contextual chapters open up wider issues in a substantial way: ‘The Bible and Catholic Social Teaching’ by John R Donahue SJ; ‘Natural Law in Catholic Social Teaching’, by Stephen J Pope; ‘The Ecclesiological Foundations of Modern Catholic Social Teaching’, by Richard R. Gaillardetz; and ‘Early Modern Roman Catholic Social Thought, 1740-1890’, by Michael J. Schuck.
The final chapters are also gems. ‘The reception of Catholic Social and Economic Teaching in the United States’, by Charles E. Curran; ‘The Reception of Catholic Approaches to Peace and War in the United States’, by Todd D. Whitmore; and ‘The Future of Catholic Social Thought’ by John A Coleman SJ.
This book offers a mastery analysis of the social documents, setting a new benchmark for the quality of its enquiry.
Essential reading for social scholars!
A British Introduction of Catholic Thinking
An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought
By Michael P Hornsby-Smith (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 387).
Writing from a British perspective, Hornsby-Smith examines what contribution Catholic social thought can make to contemporary social problems. He begins with two chapters on the social context and the nature of liberal capitalism, and then probes the theological resources under chapter headings on ‘The Kingdom of God’, ‘Christian Citizenship’, and a summary of Catholic social thinking.
He takes up particular themes and discusses them in relation to leading religious and secular writers on human rights; the family; economic life; social exclusion; authentic development; and war and peace. His final chapter discusses practical responses. The book lists ‘campaigning organizations’ in the United Kingdom mainly, has an extensive bibliography and an exhaustive index.
Recommended as an example of bringing Catholic social tradition into close engagement with contemporary debates and thinking in Britain!
Focusing on Globalisation
Globalization and Catholic Social Thought: Present Crisis and Future Hope
Edited by John A Coleman SJ and William F Ryan SJ (New York: Orbis, 2005, pp.310).
This is another excellent collection of articles by leading thinkers in their fields. John A Coleman SJ opens with a chapter on Globalization and Catholic Social Thought. Lisa Sowle Cahill writes on ‘Globalization and the Common Good’, James E Hug on ‘Economic Justice and Globalization’ and J Bryan Hehir on ‘Conflict and Security in the New World Order’. Mary Evelyn Tucker looks at the environment issues, while R Scott Appleby considers ‘Global Civil Society’. Johan Verstraeten, Joe Holland and Gregory Baum also have chapters. Other chapters look at globalisation in various
regions, and dialogue among world religions, including a case study on Iran and Islam. William F Ryan concludes with his reflections and hopes. The book has useful endnotes, a bibliography and an index.
Very helpful in thinking through issues around globalisation!