The Social Doctrine of the Church is something huge: you get the feeling it must take years to study it, years to understand at least part of it and more years to begin to put it into action. Yet it seems so important to try, because the world is in bad shape, the poor are suffering, and you want to do something!

But just as you can ask your iPhone: “Hey, Siri, how many cups in one quart?”, so too can you peruse Benedict XVI’s works and find what you’re looking for, even when reading with something else in mind.

And this is what I found:


27. It must be admitted that the Church’s leadership was slow to realize that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way. (…) In 1891, the papal magisterium intervened with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. This was followed in 1931 by Pius XI’s Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno. In 1961 Blessed John XXIII published the Encyclical Mater et Magistra, while Paul VI, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967) and in the Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens (1971), insistently addressed the social problem, which had meanwhile become especially acute in Latin America. My great predecessor John Paul II left us a trilogy of social Encyclicals: Laborem Exercens (1981), Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987) and finally Centesimus Annus (1991). Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would immediately change things for the better. This illusion has vanished. In today’s complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church’s social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we live.


When I was just trying to understand a little more about God’s love, here’s the practical definition and list of titles I needed to start studying the Social Doctrine of the Church!

It doesn’t mean that I’ve mastered it. But from now on, I’m walking confidently in the footsteps of an outstanding teacher. A few more years and maybe I can do something for the world.

Laure & Paul (DC)

1 Comment
  1. We have started a Zaccheus Course here in Boston, in French for our first edition. We are so thankful for the teachings that speak to our hearts and help them grow, and for the practice thoughtfully designed to allow each of us to take the teaching into their personal lives!
    Social Doctrine explained to everyone!
    Hope to start an English speaking Course next fall…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact information


US Office Address:
Emmanuel Community, Inc
280 Weaver St
Larchmont, NY 10538


Subscribe to our Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Support our Mission