Many books and articles are written about official Catholic social thought, but excellent critical studies of its methodology in the light of contemporary philosophical thinking are scarce. With this book, written in a genuine liberation perspective, Aloysius Cartagenas fills a gap. His book is a must-read for every Catholic scholar and social activist who seeks to understand and respond to the challenges of contemporary Catholic social thought.
Prof. Dr. Johan Verstraeten
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
Catholic University of Leuven
Few of us have thought of applying the historical-critical study of the Bible to the Catholc Church’s social teaching. This body of teachings has always been surrounded by the aura of infallibility and its formulation shrouded in secrecy, prompting the label “the Church’s best kept secret.” Moreover, it has been recently compiled into an official compendium of social doctrines ready for application throughout the world.
Applying the methods of biblical scholarships, the author rejects this view and argues that “both the ‘Catholic social teaching’ and the ‘Catholic social thought and praxis’ that make up the one Catholic Social Tradition is rather in a period of transition. It will not be open to a new future unless it courageously faces up to the challenges of interpretation, communication, and practice.” He takes us along in the study of these three challenges using three guidelines: the insights of Paul Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation, Jürgen Habermas’s study of communicative reason and action, and finally Alasdair MacIntyre’s development of a theory of practice. The overall result is fascinating as the author proposes three corresponding sets of principles crucial to “unlocking” the future of the Catholic Social Tradition.
The book is a fruit of enormous study and dedicated labor. I highly recommend it and join the author’s “prophetic-utopian” and “praxis-prescriptive” call to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
Prof. Dr. Lode Lucas Wostyn
Maryhill School of Theology