Catholic Social Teaching



Updated 3 February 2008



The Catholic Church has a developed a large but little known body of teaching on social, economic, political, and cultural matters. The opportunities and crises we face in the social order, nationally and internationally, challenge Catholics as parents, citizens, clergy and religious, teachers, workers, business and professional people, politicians, and so on. We look around for explanations and guidelines which give us a Christian perspective on contemporary local and foreign social events and issues. What can we say, as Christians, about peace, economic justice, development, racism and sexism, human rights, the dignity of persons and the sacredness of human life, work and trade unions, and so on?


Written assignment. Assignments have to be at least ten pages long, and they are to be handed in both in a hardcopy and in an electronic copy to this site’s address. The electronic copy will be used to check for plagiarism, so beware! You may find a list of suggested topics here, or else you might send me an email suggesting a particular topic of your choosing. The deadline for handing in your assignment is 19 May 2008 and 2% marks per day will be deducted for late assignments. Assignments may be written in English or Maltese but correct orthography is expected in both cases.


Rev. Dr Raymond Zammit (



·         For a comprehensive list of Papal and Episcopal Documents relating to Catholic Social Justice Teaching, see

·         Coleman John, One Hundred Years of Catholic Social Thought: Celebration and Challenge, New York 1991. (BQT3416.O5)

·         Dwyer Judith A (ed.), The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought, Minnesota: 1994 Ref. PBZ.

·         O’Brien David J – Shannon Thomas A, Catholic Social Teaching: The Documentary Heritage, New York 1992.

·         Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2004.

·         Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts, Robert A SiricoMaciej Zieba (eds), Città Del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (as pdf)


Course outline


·         Introduction: A Faith that Demands Justice


·         USCCB, Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish

·         USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions

·         Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Social Agenda (Article One: The Nature of Catholic Social Teaching)

·         History and overview of documents related to CST

·         The Busy Christian's Guide to Catholic Social Teaching (Timeline 1, Timeline 2)

·         The Human Person and Human Dignity

·         Mary Ann Glendon, The sources of ‘Rights talk’

·         Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Social Agenda (Article Two: The Human Person)

·         The Christian Anthropology of John Paul II

·         John Paul II and the Mystery of the Human Person

·         Person and Gift according to Karol Wojtyla

·         Institutions of Social Organization: Family, Private Property, State

·         The Call to Communion and Relationship

·         Solidarity, Subsidiarity and Participation

·         What economic system to follow, or is there a distinctively Catholic economic system?

·         Richard John Neuhaus, The Liberalism of John Paul II, in First Things 73 (1997) 16-21.

·         Maciej Ziebad, The Liberalism that We Need, in First Things 40 (1994) 23-27.

·         John Paul II’s Use of the Term Neo-Liberalism in Ecclesia in America

·         Economic Justice for All

·         Preferential option for the poor

·         Justice and the environment

·         Immigration

·         On war and peace

·         Promoting Social Justice in the International

·         Summary and Conclusion