20 January 2022, The Tablet

Rediscover catholic social teaching


Twenty five years ago the Catholic bishops of England and Wales published a document that remains unequalled in its political subject matter, its willingness to court controversy, and in its short and long-term impact. The question is repeatedly asked why The Common Good and the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching stands alone. Why, in short, have the bishops never followed it up with an equally emphatic intervention in economic and political affairs? It is widely observed by politicians and commentators of many flavours that the Catholic Social Teaching (CST) tradition itself offers insights into, and even solutions to, many of society’s besetting problems.

It is true that the language of CST – the common good itself, solidarity and subsidiarity, human dignity, the universal destination of goods and so on – is outside the usual lexicon of modern British politics. If so, more’s the pity. The ethical concepts are there, if by another name. But they are not organised in the coherent and logical pattern of ideas that CST offers. So why the silence? It certainly is not one that Pope Francis recommends.

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