Volume VI: Social Teachings of the Church


The book, which I have the privilege and joy of presenting, is a précis of documents belonging to a period of one century, from Rerum Novarum (1891) to Centesimus Annus (1991).

There are eight Encyclical Letters and one Apostolic Letter, two documents of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II, one of a Synod of Bishops, and two from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Five of these fourteen Magisterial documents pertain to the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, who no doubt has given a great and often original contribution to the social doctrine of the Church.

Towards its Heavenly Destiny

All of the documents presented in this book constitute an invaluable patrimony of principles, as well as of reflections on many historical situations and developments of social life, in the light of the Gospel; and referring particularly to Centesimus Annus (cf. n. 62), the last of the series, one can say that the Social Teaching of the Church “is directed to the future and accompanies humanity on its earthly journey toward its eternal destiny.

We cannot but highly commend this publication, together with its companion volumes, as a service to the Truth which the Holy Father’s and the Church’s Magisterium proclaims and offers to the Faithful and to all people of good will.

Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan Apostolic Pro-Nuncio

Table of Contents

  • Rerum Novarum, Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII, on the Condition of Labor, May 15, 1891 
  • Quadragesimo Anno, Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI, on the Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15, 1931 
  • Mater et Magistra, Encyclical Letter of Pope John XXIII, on Christianity and Social Progress, May 15, 1961
  • Pacem in Terris, Encyclical Letter of Pope John XXIII, on Peace on Earth, April 11, 1963 
  • Vatican Council II, Dignitatis Humanae, Declaration on Religious Liberty, December 7, 1965 
  • Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, December 7, 1965 
  • Populorum Progressio, Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI, on the Development of Peoples, March 26, 1967
  • Octogesima Adveniens, Apostlic Letter of Pope Paul VI, commemorating Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1971
  • Justice in the World, Synod of Bishops, Second General Assembly, November 30, 1971 
  • Laborem Exercens, Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, on the Dignity of Work, September 14, 1981 
  • Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation,” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 1964 
  • Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 2, 1986 
  • Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, on the Twentieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio, December 30, 1987
  • Cenestimus Annus, Encyclical Letter of Pope John 
  • Cenestimus Annus, Encyclical Letter of Pope John
  • Paul II, Commemorating the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, May 15, 191

Lectio Divina Cordis

Divine Reading of the Heart


HEAR the words as you inwardly read  or speak

– Read –


ENTER  the silence to reflect on a core precept

– Meditate –


ANSWER to the knock at the heart’s door

– Speak –


REST silently without words or thoughts

– Contemplate –


TRUST: “Do not let your HEART  be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”   (John 13:1)

 – Trust in the process –

Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living word.

The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ  as the key to their meaning.

Approaching the Magisterium Summaries from this perspective may lead to a deeper appreciation of its meaning and  an appreciation of how it may be applied to one’s life.

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