The meaning of the common good and social justice

What is the common good? The definition that is used in almost all discussion in Catholic circles in the English-speaking world is taken from paragraph 26 of Gaudium et spes which was a document arising from the Second Vatican Council. The common good was defined as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment”. This is also the definition that is used in the English language translation of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

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Mother Teresa as a leader – what can today’s political leaders learn?

Mother Teresa

At a time when the public and the media are examining the moral compass of politicians and other public leaders, for example through the lobbying revelations of the current government, it is helpful to reflect upon what today’s political leaders can learn from leaders of the past. One such, although surprising, choice of leader to reflect upon is Mother Teresa. She is an interesting choice as she contradicts many of the common traits of today’s political leaders.   

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Adding diversity to the university

stained glass

Globally, there are 1,400 Catholic universities. They make a substantial contribution to the intellectual life of the Church. However, there are few Catholic higher education institutions in the UK. There is a reason for this. After the hierarchy was restored in England and Wales, the focus was on building schools and then churches without much thought being given to higher education. Indeed, most of our Catholic higher education institutions evolved from teacher training colleges.

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Competition and co-operation – they are not alternatives

If you ask most people – perhaps Christians especially – what the opposite of competition is, they will suggest it is co-operation. So often you hear the phrase “co-operation not competition”. But co-operation is not the opposite of competition. Monopoly is the opposite of competition. I do wonder if any of the people who call for co-operation rather than competition have ever tried to run a businesses without co-operating with others: it would not be a success.

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Covid and healthcare – why we must learn not to leave the disabled behind

Covid vaccination

At present I am waiting for my daughter’s Covid vaccination appointment. My daughter, now an adult, has profound severe multiple disabilities. She cannot tell me if she feels ill or in pain, and certainly not if she has lost her sense of smell. Like many people with disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities, when it comes to health and social care it is easy for my daughter to fall through the gaps.

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Character in the Courtroom

Amy Coney Barrett

The confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court were fascinating. These days, Parliament is not necessarily held in high regard in the UK and politics in the US is not held in high regard either. However, the Select Committee hearings and meetings of All Party Parliamentary Groups are a real credit to all politicians. Politicians at those hearings actually question each other and question witnesses in a far more interesting and skilled way than interviewers do on your average edition of BBC Newsnight, where the objective seems to be to catch politicians out so that politicians, in turn, play a boring, defensive game.

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Catholic teaching on usury and interest – continuity amidst change

Carlo Crivelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Finance and banking are institutions heavily associated in most people’s minds with modernity and the development of modern economies. While there is a certain truth to that, in the sense that the scale and reach of such institutions accelerated in the nineteenth century, it disguises the fact that most of the tools, methods and institutions associated with modern finance attained their mature form in the Catholic world of mediaeval Europe.

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The truth and freedom

It appears so simple: whoever believes he holds the truth is a threat to freedom. Or, as was stated in Centesimus annus by John Paul II: “…those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends…” (Centesimus Annus, 46).

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