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Posted June 29, 2004

Book: From the Heart of the Church: The Catholic Social Tradition
Author: Judith A. Merkle
Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, pp. 273

An Excerpt from the Preface:

This is a book about ownership. Catholics taking ownership of a rich tradition in the Church, the Catholic Social Tradition. This tradition is more than policies about social problems; it is a way of life in society. As a living tradition it has been fed by the blood of martyrs and simply by good people giving an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. The Catholic Social Tradition is about voice and responsibility in the Church and the society. It promotes conscious living and intentional choices about the commitment of energy in a modern society filled with options, yet empty of direction.

The Catholic Social Tradition is a tradition of thinking and acting. Within this tradition stand the social encyclicals since 1891 as unique manifestations of its ethical intuition and commitment to the Gospel as lived in society. It contains theological positions that belong to the Church that are essential to its logic. Each modern historical period of the Catholic Social Tradition can be characterized broadly as possessing an implicit understanding of faith, spirituality and the Church, along with a characteristic style of the expression of social commitment in society. We will call this a form of Social Catholicism.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Catholic Church can no longer provide an encyclopedia of answers to these pressing problems. However, as Jesus Christ gives new meaning to existence, then it is logical to hold that this new meaning will have markers in history and a community life that grounds people in a conscience capable of social investment. The “answers” then given by the Church to the world are its members, animated in spirit, nourished by the sacraments, as non-poor formed with an option for the poor; as poor, ready for voice and enablement, both competent and open to the new challenges before us. In being faithful to this call outside itself, to the Other, the Church will continue to become anew and carry out its mission. This then is a continuation of the Catholic Social Tradition as its members and its mission arise from the heart of the Church. May those wh have the privilege to be alive at this challenging time in history do what we can to set the course of our new age to a fuller humanity of all people.

Table of Contents:

Part One: Foundations

1. Social teaching: a message lived or professed?
2. The faith to walk
3. Spirituality for the world
4. The Church in society

Part Two: The Catholic Social Tradition

5. Social teaching before Vatican II
6. Social teaching of John XXIII and Paul VI
7. Political theology
8. Liberation theology
9. Social Catholicism after Vatican II
10. Social teaching of John Paul II

Part Three: The future of Catholic Social Tradition

11. Communities formed in the heart of the Church
A thought experiment