Session 1
June 12, 2023
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 2
June 19, 2023
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 3
June 26, 2023
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 4
July 3, 2023
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 5
July 10, 2023
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 6
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 7
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 8
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 9
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 10
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 11
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 12
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 13
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 14
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 15
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 16
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 17
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 18
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 19
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm
Session 20
In-person 7pm-8pm | Online 12pm-1pm

Online Course Details    

Meeting ID: 857 9176 1581 | Passcode: 667184

Catholic Social Teaching is the label given to the areas of Catholic doctrine which relate to human dignity and the common good. Although it has deep roots – going back to the patristic era and ultimately to the teachings of Jesus – the nomenclature of Catholic Social Teaching was originated in the nineteenth century. This was a period of great political upheaval and the Church was called on during this period to answer the claims made by new political ideologies: socialism, social democracy, liberalism, anarchism and capitalism. In response the Church created a new strand of political philosophy which drew upon influences both secular and Christian tradition. Over the five weeks of this course, we will examine each of the five key principles of Catholic Social Teaching, examining the doctrinal basis, the history and the practical applicability of each one.

 

Week 1 – Human Dignity

The central pillar of all Catholic teaching is the sanctity of life. As such, Catholic Social Teaching is primarily concerned with protecting life and with protecting the value and dignity of human beings. This aspect of Catholic Social Teaching takes practical shape in the Churches opposition to abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and military adventurism. It also influences the churches position on the exploitation of labour and on the abrogation of human freedom within despotic regimes. This week, we will discuss the history of the Churches teaching on human dignity and consider what it means to safeguard human life in the twenty-first century.

 

Week 2 – Subsidiarity

In 1931, Pope Pius XI declared that it was ‘a grave evil… to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.’ In this statement, the pontiff enshrined the principle of subsidiarity: the idea that the responsibilities of civic life belong properly within the smallest possible unit which can accomplish the wellbeing of the people. As such, the principle of subsidiarity militates against the misdistribution of power and authority, the attribution of too much power to one single group or actor: whether they be corporate or state. The notion of subsidiarity has taken on new meaning in the communication age and we will be discussing ways in which subsidiarity can be understood in our own society in this weeks session.  

 

Week 3 – Solidarity

A third principle of Catholic Social Teaching is belief in solidarity. Catholics are supposed to believe that no one is an island, tha teach is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. There is no good other than the common good. Today, we live in a society in which the prevailing value is the pursuit of the individual good. What role does the Church have in pushing back against this ideology? To what extent can the ethos of solidarity be supported without eroding individual freedoms? These questions will form the basis of our discussion this week.

 

Week 4 – Love

When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, he responded:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and love your neighbour as yourself.

It is clear, therefore, that love of neighbour is the fundamental concern of all Christian ethics. Today, some argue that the Churches attitudes are not loving. How does the Church understand the concept of love as a social concern? How does this principle influence the Churches positions on social issues? These are the questions we will be considering this week.

 

Week 5 – Redistribution

Capitalism, particularly in the current era, appears to lead inexorably to the unequal distribution of wealth and resources. In recent times we have seen how this situation can lead to injustice, and ultimately to civil strife. Catholic Social Teaching has always argued for a just distribution of wealth. How do societies ensure that the least fortunate are provided with the opportunity to succeed and live flourishing lives without allowing the state powers to expropriate wealth? This is a key question for Catholic economists and one which we will grapple with in the final week of the course.  

Course
Resources

Week 1

Reading - Week1

Questions for reflection

1. What are the benefits of a deontological over a consequential form of ethics?

2. Is life truly sacred if some forms of homicide (acts of war, executions etc) are permitted?

3. Is it reasonable for the Catholic Church to oppose all forms of political violence?

4. Can we call inequality a form of violence?

5. Some have argued that mutually assured destruction prevented all out conflict during the Cold War. Was the Catholic Church right to call for nuclear disarmament?

6. Is it helpful for the Church to talk about climate change as a ‘sin against God and against humanity’?

Week 2

Reading - Week 2

Questions for reflection

1. Why does the Church object to ‘collectivism’?

2. Why does the Church object to ‘individualism’?

3. Is there any Biblical mandate for the principle of subsidiarity?

4. How did the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries impact the Churches approval of subsidiarity?

5. What are the challenges to the principle of subsidiarity in the geopolitical context of 2023?

6. What challenges are there in striking a balance between the rights of families and the rights of children in a modern, liberal, secular democracy?

7.  Does the Catholic Church observe the principle of subsidiarity in its own governance?

Week 3

Reading - Week 3

Questions for reflection

1. Is living in community – as the first Christians did – an ideal of Christian life?

2. Does democracy aid or hinder solidarity?

3. What are the benefits of solidarism oversocialism or capitalism?

4. What are its downsides?

5. Does social media provide an opportunity or a threat to human solidarity?

6. How does Pope Francis’ concept of social ecology differ from the traditional conception of solidarity?

Week 4

Reading - Week 4

Questions for reflection

1. Do you agree that agapē is the highest form of love?

2. Does the principle of love provide practical solutions to our current social and political problems?

3. Is an action good if it has good consequences, even if it is not motivated by love?

4. Is any action permitted, so long as it is motivated by love?

5. Is charity a force for good or ill?

6. What is the difference between a just society and a loving society?

7. Is our current society more or less loving than in the past?

Week 5

Reading - Week 5

Questions for reflection

1. What does Jesus mean when he says that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?

2. What does Jesus mean when he says that the poor are always with us?

3. Can an omniscient, benevolent God choose sides when it comes to class?

4. Is violence ever justified in the pursuit of the Catholic vision of social justice?

5. Do you agree with the Churches actions against Gutierrez, Cardenal and Boff?

6. Do you agree with the statement that the original concept of the ‘preferential option’ has become meaningless in its current usage?

Evaluation Form

We would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to provide us with feedback on your experience with our course. Please complete an evaluation form here:

 Evaluation Form - Catholic Social Teaching · ChurchSuite Forms

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this request.

Resources

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Tutors

Dr Aidan Cottrell-Boyce

Aidan completed his PhD at the Divinity Faculty of the University of Cambridge in 2018. During his doctoral studies he ran as a Parliamentary candidate for the Green Party. He is the author of two academic books: Jewish Christians in Puritan England (2020) and Israelism in Modern Britain (2021). Between 2020 and 2022 he worked as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at St Mary's University in London.

MY LJC