Online Course


Universities down the ages have contributed to the development and promotion of Catholic social thought. Developing the scholarship of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Iberian late scholastics were particularly influential. Their work had an important impact on the modern social encyclicals of the Catholic Church, the first of which was published in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII. Catholic social thought continued to develop throughout the 20th century, but there was a further revival of interest in the early 21st century following the financial crisis and greater awareness of environment problems and the benefits and challenges of globalisation.

Pope Benedict visits St. Mary's University in 2010

Pope Benedict visits St. Mary's University in 2010

This online course is intended to address the challenges of Catholic social teaching in our current era. It can also be thought of as a “taster” for the university’s MA in Catholic Social Teaching. We are pleased to be partnering with a number of Portuguese language universities to bring this resource to a much wider global audience.

The course addresses many important challenges raised by Pope Francis in recent encyclicals. It also takes inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s comment that: “The Church does not have technical solutions to present but, as an expert in humanity, she offers to everyone the teaching of the sacred Scripture on the truth about man and proclaims the Gospel of Love and justice.” The Catholic Church’s understanding of the dignity and imperfections of all persons is widely shared and its implications understood and practised by all people of goodwill: it is an inclusive vision.

As Pope Benedict pointed out elsewhere, judgements about particular matters in Catholic social teaching require technical knowledge in areas such as economics. As such, this course takes an inter-disciplinary approach integrating relevant work in economics, history, philosophy and theology whilst remaining accessible to non-specialists.

Course units to come

  • Cronyism and Catholic Social Teaching Jay W. Richards, The Busch School of Business, The Catholic University of America
  • Government debt – a neglected theme of Catholic social teaching Philip Booth, Kaetana Numa and Stephen Nakrosis
  • Catholic Social Teaching and Welfare – Time for a Rethink Russell Sparkes
© Catholic Social Thought 2020