Social Doctrine of the Church Notes

Copyright 2014, Albert Schorsch, III, All Rights Reserved

1/28/14 – Biblical & Theoretical Foundations, St. Thomas Aquinas

Podcast of Class 1


Newman, Meditations on Christian Doctrine

1. GOD has created all things for good; all things for their greatest good; everything for its own good. What is the good of one is not the good of another; what makes one man happy would make another unhappy. God has determined, unless I interfere with His plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness. He looks on me individually, He calls me by my name, He knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and He means to give it me.

2. God knows what is my greatest happiness, but I do not. There is no rule about what is happy and good; what suits one would not suit another. And the ways by which perfection is reached vary very much; the medicines necessary for our souls are very different from each other. Thus God leads us by {300} strange ways; we know He wills our happiness, but we neither know what our happiness is, nor the way. We are blind; left to ourselves we should take the wrong way; we must leave it to Him.

3. Let us put ourselves into His hands, and not be startled though He leads us by a strange way, a mirabilis via, as the Church speaks. Let us be sure He will lead us right, that He will bring us to that which is, not indeed what we think best, nor what is best for another, but what is best for us.

Colloquy. O, my God, I will put myself without reserve into Thy hands. Wealth or woe, joy or sorrow, friends or bereavement, honour or humiliation, good report or ill report, comfort or discomfort, Thy presence or the hiding of Thy countenance, all is good if it comes from Thee. Thou art wisdom and Thou art love—what can I desire more? Thou hast led me in Thy counsel, and with glory hast Thou received me. What have I in heaven, and apart from Thee what want I upon earth? My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.

1. God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all {301} created to His glory—we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.

2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

3. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He {302} may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.

O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I—more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

A different way of looking at the world

Mystery of the Redemption


Mercy and Justice

Dives in Misereccordia

The Priority of Christ


Not your politics, not my politics

Not just lists of encyclicals and internal bullet points

Not the third way between capitalism and communism

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 41

The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior. It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology.




Tranquillitas Ordinis

Mystery of Iniquity

Theory of evil as privation, the absence of good

We therefore cannot know the nature of evil completely

Similar to "The Nothing" in The Neverending Story

Francis of Assisi

Treated each person as the person of Christ

Friedrich Heer saw a link between Francis and Kant's "Formula of Humanity" ethic of treating all persons as ends, not means (subjects, not objects)


Film: Vision: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen

trailer, available via Netflix

Theory of complementarity of the sexes



Distributive Justice

Commutative Justice


Thomas More

Film: A Man for All Seasons

Good society is based upon each person being good

"You ought rather to cast about and to manage things with all the dexterity in your power, so that if you are not able to make them go well they may be as little ill as possible; for except all men were good everything cannot be right, and that is a blessing that I do not at present hope to see."


John Paul II / Karol Wojtyla

Dorothy Day

Catholic Worker

Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Friendship House

Madonna House


New American BIble

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Part One

Chapter One: God's Plan of Love for Humanity

I. God's Liberating Action in the HIstory of Israel

a. God's Gratuitous Presence

20.  Mystery of God


Golden Rule

21. Exodus

22. Decalogue

23. Right of the Poor

Deut 15: 7-8

7 If one of your kindred is in need in any community in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand against your kin who is in need. 8 Instead, you shall freely open your hand and generously lend what suffices to meet that need.

Deut 24

24-25. Sabbatical - Jubilee Years

Social Doctrine in miniature

God's action transcends time

b. The Principle of Creation and God's Gratuitous Action

26.  Divine gratuitousness

Cultivators and custodians of creation

27. Free act of creation

Sin as original estrangement

The strategy of the course

Learning to Love God while we learn to love our neighbor

So you can continue to learn Catholic Social Doctrine yourself

Reading for next class:

Compendium #34 - #40

Dives in Misericoridia #12, Is Justice Enough?

2/11/14 – Human Person

2/25/14 – Common Good, Subsidiary & Solidarity

3/11/14 – Family

3/25/14 – Work

4/8/14   Economic Life, Political & International Community

4/22/14 – Environment, Peace, & a Civilization of Love

4/29/14 – Bonus Session, Women & St. Catherine of Siena