Reading List on Catholic Social Teaching

- from the Archdiocese of St. Paul (USA) Office of Social Justice Website

Introductory Works 
 grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Doing FaithJustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought

Fred Kammer, S.J.  (Paulist Press, New York; 1991.)

  An excellent place to begin. Written in a very popular style, this book is both interesting and inspirational. It includes stories, commentaries on the Church's teaching, and brief summaries of many of the official papal encyclicals on social justice. (Purchase online)
 grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Living Justice : Catholic Social Teaching in Action

Thomas Massaro, S. J. (Sheed and Ward, 2000.)

  This small paperback provides a succinct, plain-English synopses of Catholic social teaching. It's especially good for people who are new to this subject matter. It is clearly written and covers the basics of the teaching very well. Includes a list of nine key themes from the teaching. The themes are not discussed in detail, but the big picture is presented very clearly.  (Purchase online)
grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Responses to 101 Questions on Catholic Social Teaching

Kenneth R. Himes O.F.M. (Paulist Press, 2001)

  Organized in a very readable question-and-answer format, this small paperback gives "a concise overview of what the major documents of the tradition say about political, economic, and social life." The 101 answers are grouped by topics and presented in a clear, accessible style with numerous references to the official  documents.  Especially good in explaining the social, communitarian nature of Catholic social teaching. (Purchase online)
 grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Catholic Social Teaching and Movements

Marvin L. Krier Mich (Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT; 1998)

  This is a superb introduction to Catholic social teaching. It covers not only the official documents and encyclicals but also describes the movements and people who embodied the struggle for social justice in the last 100 years. Very well written. Makes the Catholic tradition of social justice come alive. (Purchase online)
 grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Catholic Social Teaching: Our Best Kept Secret

Peter Henroit, Edward DeBerri, Michael Schultheis
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1988.)

  If you're looking for the "Cliff Notes" version of 100 years of Catholic social thought, try a small paperback by three Jesuit priests -- Peter Henriot, Edward DeBerri, and Michael Schultheis. This handy little work begins with a brief overview of the development of social teaching. The core of the book consists of detailed outlines of the major social teaching documents from 1891 to 1988. All in all, it's a very convenient reference to have. (Purchase online.)
Basic Reference Works 
grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage

David J. Obrien and Thomas A. Shannon, ed.
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1995.)

  Are you looking for all of the official documents in one place? This is the most complete compendium of Catholic social encyclicals and other official papal documents on Catholic social teaching. Includes U.S. bishops pastoral letters on peace and on economic justice. It is indexed by subject and author. Available in paperback. (Purchase Online)
grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Proclaiming Justice and Peace:
Papal Documents from Rerum Novarum through Centesimus Annus

Michael Walsh and Brian Davies, ed.
(Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, Conn., 1991.)

  Another compendium of official documents, published a few years earlier. (Purchase online.)
grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought

Judith Dwyer, ed.
(The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minn., 1994.)

Provides analysis and commentary on the major social encyclicals. Also includes discussion of major movements, figures, themes and social issues that have been a part of Catholic social thought for the last century. A good reference work but too expensive for most individual readers. (Purchase online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) John Paul II: The Encyclicals in Everyday Language

Joseph Donders, ed.
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1995.)

If you want to get the content of Pope John Paul II's encyclicals, but are put off by some of the dense prose style in the original texts, then get a copy of this paperback.  Why didn't somebody think of this earlier? (Ordering information)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Catholic Social Teaching 1891-- Present: 
A Historical, Theological and Ethical Analysis

Charles E. Curran
(Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C., 2002)

This is a must read for serious students of Catholic social teaching. In the words of Richard P. McBrien, this is "the best one-volume exposition and analysis of Catholic social teaching in our time." Curran studies the methodology and content of the teaching and provides a broad sweeping analysis of the historical development of Catholic social thought from the perspective of ethics and theology. An exceptional work by an exceptional ethicist.  (Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Option for the Poor: A Hundred Years of Vatican Social Teaching

Donal Dorr
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1992.)

This is an excellent commentary for those who want a more in-depth review of the Catholic social tradition. The author reviews the tradition thoroughly, examines historical developments in the teaching, and lifts up the moral theme of care for the poor. (Ordering Information.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) One Hundred Years of Catholic Social Thought

J. A. Coleman, S.J., ed.
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1991)

This is an excellent collection of essays by a wide range of authors. The six general essays or CST are especially useful. The remainder of the book is divided into three sections that cover themes of
1. Family, 2. Work and Economics, 4. Justice, 5. Peace Issues.

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Preaching the Just Word

Walter J. Burghardt, S.J
(Yale University Press; New Haven, Conn.; 1996

Are you a preacher or a consumer of Catholic preaching who wants to know more about why and how the Church's social teaching should be integrated into every Sunday's homily? Try a small hardcover book entitled  by Walter J. Burghardt, S.J. He is one of the best Catholic preachers in America, and this book is a gem.
(Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Official Catholic Social Teaching, Readings in Moral Theology No. 5

Charles E. Curran, Richard A. Mc Cormick S.J., Editors
(Paulist Press, NY; 1986.)

This is a rich collection of essays and commentaries on Catholic social thought. A wide range of authors and a diverse body of content. One of the best collections of commentaries on this topic.

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) American Catholic Social Ethics, Twentieth Century Approaches

Charles E. Curran
(University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN; 1982.)

This work discusses Catholic social ethics in the American context by analyzing the contributions of key individuals who helped shape American Catholic social thought in this century. Distinct chapters are devoted to John A. Ryan, William Engelen (Central-Verein), Paul Hanly Furfey (Catholic Worker), John Courtney Murray, and James W. Douglass (Catholic Peace Movement).

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) The Faith That Does Justice - Examining the Christian Source for Social Change

John Haughey, ed. - 1977
(Paulist Press; New York, NY; 1977)

A very useful collection of essays by scholars such as Avery Dulles, John Donahue, John Langan,Jr., David Hollenbach and John Haughley. The essay by Donahue on biblical justice is an excellent overview. The essay by Hollenbach entitled, "Modern Catholic Social Teachings Concerning Justice" is an excellent summary.

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Fullness of Faith

Michael and Kenneth Himes
(Paulist Press; Mahwah, NJ; 1993)

A very insightful work that provides theological reflection on Catholic social thought and public theology. Notable chapters include "Original Sin", "The Trinity and Human Rights", "Grace and a Consistent Ethic of Life," and "The Communion of Saints and an Ethic of Solidarity." This is a very thoughtful and inspiring work.

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Confident and Competent - A Challenge for the Lay Church

William L. Droel and Greg Pierce
(Ave Maria Press; Notre Dame, IN; 1987)

This small paperback provides an insightful and straight forward challenge to lay persons to fulfill the Vatican Council’s mandate "to be church in the world". The authors contend that lay spirituality is based on "work in the world". Excellent brief treatment of topics such as definition of social justice, social teaching, and spirituality of work.  (Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) An American Strategic Theology

John A. Coleman
(Paulist Press; New York; 1982)

The author presents a strong argument for the public possibilities of the Christian gospel in contemporary American culture. The book presents the church as a sacrament to the world, as a community that is gathered precisely for the purpose of being sent into the world. The first chapter, entitled "The Church's Mission to Justice," is a very thoughtful essay on the topic.  (Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Claims in Conflict - Retrieving and Renewing the Catholic Human Rights Tradition

David Hollenbach
(Paulist Press; New York, NY; 1979)

This is a clear and thoughtful work that summarizes and analyzes Catholic social teaching on the topic of human rights. It situates Catholic teaching in the context of the wider public debate about human rights, both nationally and internationally. A very useful work that helps interpret one of the foundational themes of the Church’s social teachings.

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) The Moral Core of Judaism and Christianity

Daniel C. Maguire
(Augsburg Fortress; Minneapolis, MN; 1993)

This is a powerful and bold attempt to refute the myth that there is no commonality in the Jewish and Christian traditions of moral thought. The theme of justice is prominent in this work. It provides a good opportunity to better understand CST in the wider context of Judeo-Christian thought. (Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Ownership - Early Christian Teaching

Charles Avila
(Orbis Books; Maryknoll, NY; 1983)

This is a rich anthology of early church teachings on the theme of ownership. Patristic writers in the third and fourth centuries had a surprisingly radical and consistent tradition of thought on ownership and property. Works of Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, and Augustine are among those included. (Order Online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters

Walter J. Burghardt, S.J.
(Paulist Press; Mahwah, NJ; 1998)

An excellent collection of homilies by one of the Catholic Church’s best preachers. The focus is on biblical justice and the homilies cover a wide range of dates within the liturgical year, as well as special events. Also includes a comprehensive index of all Fr. Burghardt’s published homilies. (Order online.)

grenbull.gif (1031 bytes) Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent

Thomas Groome
Thomas More: Allen, Texas, 1998)

If you're looking for one general essay that summarizes and explains Catholic social teaching, it's hard to beat the eighth chapter of this recent book by Thomas Groome. This is an exceptional work overall, and the chapter on Catholic social teaching is superb. As the title suggests, it's directed at teachers and parents. (Order online.)