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Church, State, and Society

An Introduction to Catholic Social Doctrine

J. Brian Benestad

Publication Year: 2012

Church, State, and Society explains the nuanced understanding of human dignity and the common good found in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Series: Catholic moral thought

Front Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The University of Scranton gave me a sabbatical and some released time from teaching in order to do research and to write my book on Catholic social doctrine. For this alloted time I am grateful to the provost, Dr. Hal Baillie, to two former deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, Drs. Joseph Dreisbach and Paul Fahey, ...

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Introduction: Catholic Social Doctrine and Political Philosophy

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pp. 1-32

Do contemporary Catholics know the social teachings of the Church? Otherwise stated, can the typical member of a Catholic parish give an account of Catholic social doctrine (CSD)?1 In a 1998 statement, the United States Catholic Bishops answer this question in the negative through their episcopal conference.2 ...

Part 1: The Human Person, the Political Community, and the Common Good

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1. The Dignity of the Human Person, Human Rights, and Natural Law

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pp. 35-80

The practice of courtesy revels that people have an innate sense of the dignity of the human person. Even toward perfect strangers, many people will behave with good manners. We all know that the practice of courtesy makes civil life much more enjoyable. ...

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2. The Meaning of the Common Good

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pp. 81-112

Recent Catholic social doctrine still holds that the highest purpose of the political community is to promote the common good.1 This seems clear enough until one asks what Church documents mean by the term. Echoing John XXIII’s Mater et magistra (On Christianity and Social Progress) ...

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3. Seeking the Common Good through Virtue and Grace

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pp. 113-142

While many things contribute to the attainment of the common good, virtue (including wisdom) and grace deserve special mention. The Catechism sets the proper tone in the section on the human community with the following statement: “It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person ...

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4. Seeking the Common Good through Justice and Social Justice

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pp. 143-167

The first part of this chapter relies mainly on Aquinas and Augustine to explain Catholic wisdom on justice. Such terms as justice, distributive justice, and commutative justice will be explained. In the second half of the chapter I discuss the debates about the meaning of social justice among Catholic scholars ...

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5. Seeking the Common Good through Law and Public Policy: Same-Sex Marriage, the Life Questions, and Biotechnology

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pp. 168-212

Most people readily understand that good public policy on a range of issues is a significant contribution to the common good because it provides structural solutions to problems that every society faces. Examples of such issues are the life questions (abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, cloning, creation and destruction of embryos); ...

Part 2: Civil Society and the Common Good: Three Mediating Institutions

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6. Civil Society and the Church

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pp. 215-253

A healthy civil society makes an enormous contribution to the common good of the nation. It reaches into those areas of life that the law cannot or will not reach. The three most important agents of civil society are the Church, the family, and the university. The next two chapters will, accordingly, discuss these three pillars of society. ...

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7. Civil Society, the Family, and the Principle of Subsidiarity

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pp. 254-280

American liberal democracy has a constant need of citizens with competence and good character. “The American version of the democratic experiment,” says Mary Ann Glendon, “leaves it primarily up to families, local governments, schools and workplace associations, and a host of other voluntary groups to teach ...

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8. Civil Society, the Catholic University, and Liberal Education

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pp. 281-312

Catholics need Catholic universities in order to receive a thorough liberal education that includes the serious study of philosophy and theology in addition to the other usual subjects. Without this kind of education it is very hard to understand thoroughly the principles and implications of Catholic social doctrine (CSD). ...

Part 3: Private Property and the Universal Destination of Goods

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9. The Economy, Work, Poverty, and Immigration

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pp. 315-341

The first part of this chapter will present the basics of Catholic teaching on the economy and work. These two subjects belong together because the economic system of a country exists to provide the framework in which work takes place and exercises a great influence on all employers and employees. ...

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10. Safeguarding and Sustaining the Environment

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pp. 342-374

To safeguard and sustain the environment is a work for every locale and nation, and a momentous task for the whole world. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says, “Modern ecological problems are of a planetary nature and can be effectively resolved only through international cooperation capable of guaranteeing greater coordination in the use of the earth’s resources.”1 ...

Part 4: The International Community and Justice

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11. The International Community

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pp. 377-402

A chapter on the international community is a near-impossible task. There are so many topics and such limited space. In order to facilitate my task I will put off the subject of just war principles until chapter 12. This present chapter will focus on the fundamental principles that should animate the international community. ...

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12. Just-War Principles

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pp. 403-426

One of the most urgent tasks of Catholic social teaching is to keep the principles of the just-war doctrine before the eyes of government leaders and citizens. This chapter lays out the fundamental tenets of just-war principles and shows the roots of these principles in the thought of Augustine and Aquinas. ...

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Conclusion: The Tension between Catholic Social Doctrine and the Proponents of Religion as a Private Affair

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pp. 427-446

The most obvious source of tension between Catholic social doctrine and American liberal democracy is the emphasis on autonomy in contemporary culture. Many people just want to create their own values without being bothered with the teachings of natural law or revealed religion. ...

Appendix: Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in veritate

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pp. 447-466


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pp. 467-486


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pp. 487-500

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219233
E-ISBN-10: 081321923X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813218014
Print-ISBN-10: 0813218012

Page Count: 512
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Catholic moral thought