I am glad to announce the publication of a book that may, with truth, be said to have been under development for over 20 years. This collection has three points of origin. First, there was my exposure as a student at Thomas Aquinas College to the powerful anti-liberal encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII (not, mind you, as part of the regular curriculum, but due to an extracurricular reading group run by traditionally-minded Catholics). This awakened my mind to the perspective of the Syllabus of Errors, the gauntlet thrown down to the supposed triumph of enlightened modernity.
Second, when I began to teach at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria (now in Trumau), we needed a Catholic Social Teaching course, and in keeping with our “Great Books” approach, decided to make the course consist entirely of magisterial documents. That gave birth to the first draft of the book announced below.
Third, when Wyoming Catholic College opened its doors in 2007, there was agreement that we should require of the students at least one semester of moral theology and social doctrine. Using materials from ITI, WCC created a course that begins with the foundations of moral theology, moves to marriage and family, and ends with political, economic, and cultural issues. The readings for this course, duly edited, arranged, and introduced, have become A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching.
A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching: From Syllabus Errorum to Deus Caritas Est ed. and with a preface by Peter A. Kwasniewski
Cluny Media, 548pp., $29.95
Catholic Social Teaching (CST), or the Social Doctrine of the Church, is frequently mentioned but seldom understood and applied aright. Presentations of CST can often take the form of commentary on, rather than enunciations of, the principles of CST; attempts to inject CST into sundry social or economic ideologies; or superficial reductions of CST into “language and scenarios we can all understand.” These various modes of presentation err in one fundamental way: they do us the disservice of not presenting the authentic sources of the Church’s Social Doctrine, which is a distinct branch of moral theology. CST is neither platitudinous social commentary nor assertions of economic utopianism. Rather, it takes seriously man’s identity as both a “political animal” and a being created in God’s image and likeness.
To become intimately acquainted with CST, there is no substitute for reading the writings of the popes, who, from Leo XIII onwards, are the authentic sources for the subject, and whose ideas have left a permanent mark on Catholic and secular thought alike. A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching: From Syllabus Errorum to Deus Caritas Est offers to its readers a carefully chosen array of documents from Pope Pius IX to Pope Benedict XVI. The result is a book excellently suited to bring its readers to an ever-greater appreciation of the nobility of man, the lofty purpose of our freedom, and the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Returning year after year to the documents in the classroom, Prof. Kwasniewski has identified and corrected hundreds of typographical errors, incorrect citations, missing phrases, and poor translations that are found in standard editions (including those on the Vatican website).