1st semester Monday evening    Crosslisted as DT2/3230Y       (Min. No. 8)



This unit will examine Catholic social and political ideas and movements in Europe and elsewhere, and evaluate their impact and interpretation in Australia. It will consider key issues in Catholic social movements in Europe, outline the backgrounds to the papal social encyclicals, and trace their development internationally to Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.



A foundational unit in Church History or moral Theology



Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. show competence in reading and interpreting the main social encyclicals
  2. demonstrate familiarity with key social concepts: the common good, solidarity, social and distributive justice, capitalism, communism, socialism, corporatism
  3. describe key debates about Catholic social movements, and analyse various views
  4. demonstrate in written form a critical appropriation of some aspect of the subject
  5. display understanding of the cultural origins and development of social justice traditions in the Church
  6. level 3 only: Critically evaluate aspects of Church social teaching.



Level 2: 1500 word essay (40%); 2500 word essay (60%)

Level 3: 2000 word essay (40%); 3000 word essay (60%)



Boswell, Jonathan S., Francis P. McHugh and Johan Verstraeten, eds. Catholic Social Thought: Twilight or Renaissance. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2000.

Cullen, Philomena, Bernard Hoose and Gerard Mannion, eds. Catholic Social Justice: Theological and Practical Explorations.  London: T & T Clark, 2007.

Curran, Charles. Catholic Social Teaching 1891 – Present. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002.

Dorr, Donal. Option for the Poor and for the Earth. Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 2012.

Duncan, Bruce. The Church’s Social Teaching: from Rerum Novarum to 1931. Melbourne, VIC: CollinsDove, 1991.

———. Crusade or Conspiracy? Catholics and the Anti-Communist Struggle in Australia. Sydney, NSW: UNSW Press, 2001.

Himes, Kenneth R., ed. Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations. Washington, DC: Georgetown UP, 2004.

Hogan, Michael. Australian Catholics: The Social Justice Tradition. Melbourne, VIC: Collins Dove, 1993.

McCarthy, David Matzko, ed. The Heart of Catholic Social Teaching: Its Origins and Contemporary Significance. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009.

Pabst, Adrian. The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Pope Benedict XVI’s Social Encyclical and the Future of Political Economy. Cambridge, UK: James Clarke & Co., 2011.

Tornielli, Andrea and Galeazzi, Giacomo. This Economy Kills: Pope Francis on Capitalism and Social Justice. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015.

Vallely, Paul. Pope Francis: Untying the Knots. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.


Lecturer:    BRUCE DUNCAN CSsR