Catholic Social Thought in Education – Building the Collegium

Three Students look and laugh at a laptop

The term “Catholic social thought” would normally bring about discussion of issues related to politics, social and welfare policy, overseas aid and climate change, to name just a few well-trodden contemporary topics. Schooling is often thought of as a topic separate from Catholic social teaching, perhaps because of the large volume of distinct work produced on this topic by dioceses and the Vatican. However, the same issues apply to schooling as apply to (for example) healthcare. There are questions of the policy framework we should have for its delivery (the Church teaches that Catholic schools should not be discriminated against, as compared with state schools, when it comes to funding); who has responsibility (the principle of subsidiarity applies); how we should ensure that all children have an adequate education; and so on. This short piece will sketch out two further ways in which Catholic social thought could profitably influence the global networks of Catholic schools.


The late scholastics and globalisation


While the understanding of Catholic social thought as a structured and articulated body of thought is relatively recent, its roots go back much further. The work of St. Thomas Aquinas is certainly pivotal in this regard (and merits its own analysis), but in several matters the first consistent reflection on applied global economic and social issues from a Catholic perspective ought to be credited to the late scholastics and particularly to the so-called School of Salamanca.


Solidarity in an ageing world

Francis Davis meets The Pope

The world is ageing. By 2050 globally there will be more over 60’s than there under 14’s. With that shift come real changes for the Churches that they are only just beginning to consider.  No wonder then a week ago the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund published my major study into the needs of older people in Rwanda. Not surprising then that just after the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican staged its first ever Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Elderly to explore what challenges the future might hold.


The environment and continuity in Catholic social teaching


We are all entitled to empathise with different ways of proclaiming Church teaching, and of course with different pontiffs. John Paul II had and Benedict XVI and Francis have particular charisms which different people find attractive. One of the purposes of the MA in Catholic Social Teaching at St. Mary’s, however, is to emphasise the continuity of Church teaching. When it comes to Catholic teaching on the environment, that continuity has been evident – it did not begin with Laudato Si.

© Catholic Social Thought 2020