8.1.3 The Compendium’s summary of CST’s history

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Unit 8 Contents

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With the knowledge you should now have of some of the main historical events that form the background of modern CST, the next reading should be pretty straightforward.  It simply presents an outline of the development of CST from Rerum Novarum through to Centesimus Annus.

In focusing on the historical development of CST, it is very much worth being aware of a point that comes in the section of the Compendium that is immediately before the next reading.  It says:

The Church’s social doctrine is presented as a “work site” where the work is always in progress (#86).

The body of CST is not a finished work – it is still developing.  The text also says that CST is characterized by both “continuity and renewal”:

It shows [on one hand]… the continuity of a teaching that refers to the universal values drawn from Revelation and human nature. For this reason the Church’s social doctrine does not depend on… different cultures [or] ideologies…

On the other hand, in its constant turning to history and in engaging the events taking place, the Church’s social doctrine shows a capacity for continuous renewal. Standing firm in its principles does not make it a rigid teaching system, but a Magisterium [i.e. an authoritative teaching] capable of opening itself to new things… (#85, italics in original)

The section you are now asked to read has the title ‘The Church’s Social Doctrine in our Time: Historical Notes’.

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Reading (c.10pp)


Compendium, ##87-104 (chap. 2, sec III)

Note

This section mentions a couple of very significant documents that haven’t been referred to in the module at all yet.  Both of these come from the 1930s and in them Pope Pius XI critiqued the ideologies that led to immense destruction in that decade and the next.  They are: Pope Pius XI, Non Abbiamo Bisogno of 1931, critiquing abuses of power by the Fascist regime in Italy, and Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge of 1937, which criticised the Nazi regime in Germany.

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Reflection

What new knowledge does this reading give you?  Or is it only consolidating what you have learned earlier in the module?

Bear in mind that, in this module, we have been looking at only about half of the main topics CST addresses, so this reading refers to some documents not studied here, e.g. Populorum Progressio of 1967.

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With the benefit of the historical knowledge you now have, you’re asked to read two very short outlines of CST’s history and to assess them critically.

The second is part of the entry on CST at Wikipedia.  You should now be in a pretty good position to assess the accuracy and fairness of this.  As anyone is free to edit Wikipedia, it must always be read with a degree of scepticism.  But if you see clear mistakes in what it says about CST’s history, perhaps you could correct them yourself.

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Reading (c.6pp)

1.  At website on CST created by the UK Live Simply Network, page headed, ‘History: 2,000 Years of Catholic Ethics by Rob Esdaille’

2.  Wikipedia entry on Catholic Social Teaching: sec. 1 on ‘History’

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Reflection

Are there ways in which you think either of those short outlines could be improved – without lengthening them?

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End of 8.1.3

Go to 8.1.4 Different kinds of historical explanation

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