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1. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Tia Noelle Pratt

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2. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Monica Marcelli-Chu Orcid-ID

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This paper proposes a way of navigating the tension between the local and global in Fratelli tutti. The author argues that the encyclical exemplifies and develops an analogical approach for authentic encounter. The analogical approach to God and its use of language emphasize a tensive space between the known and unknown, which the author transposes to human encounter. The encyclical grounds and develops this transposed analogical approach through emphasis on cultural diversity, with a bifocal affirmation of difference and desire for relationship. Francis’s attention to Indigenous peoples grounds attention to the local as disposing toward a global outlook in care for the natural world. Finally, the author applies this approach to reflection on reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Church in Canada. Reflection on language is thereby put to the work of engaging the tensive and morally complex space between truth and reconciliation—namely, the space of encount er where healing is ongoing.

3. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Phyllis Zagano, Orcid-ID Fernando Garcia

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The responses of 178 Latin dioceses in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to the Preparatory Document for the Synod on Synodality were synthesized in fourteen regional reports. From these reports, and a report of lay groups, the USCCB produced the US report, which was synthesized with 111 other national reports into the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS). The latter was provided to seven continental assemblies. North American participants discussed the DCS in virtual meetings, and a writing team produced the North American report. The synthesized result of the continental assemblies’ reports was the synod’s 2023 Instrumentum laboris. This article discusses US diocesan participation and the North American response to the DCS as they contributed to the Instrumentum laboris’ statement relative to “the question of women’s inclusion in the diaconate.” It includes a table documenting US diocesan responses to questions of women’s participation in the Church.

4. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
James B. Ball

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Catholic social teaching is the Church’s “best-kept secret,” as the saying goes, but is it becoming literally true? This paper tests the proposition that the US bishops are developing a pattern of obscuring or, in effect, hiding particular social teachings of the popes. The instances examined include the ideological error of single-issue advocacy; the meaning of the right to form labor unions; and the intrinsic value of nonhuman species and ecosystems. It would be true irony if the “best-kept secret” were that the bishops were actually keeping a secret. The paper contends that this expression, now more than a metaphor, has acquired a double meaning to which one ought to attend, for papal social teaching should be openly embraced and handed on to the faithful.

5. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Josh Y. Chen Orcid-ID

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The problem of race has typically been treated as a problem of individual or institutional prejudice. However, more attention needs to be paid to structural racism, which shows how racialized opportunity structures sustain racial injustice even when actors are not prejudiced. Because Catholic social thought treats social structures as mere aggregates of individual behavior, however, it is unable to explain how opportunity structures constrain human agency, how social positions condition the behaviors of people who occupy them, and how harms may occur without intent. A critical realist approach to understanding social structure corrects the reductive tendencies of dominant perspectives on race, such as colorblindness and antiracism, and helps explain how nonracists can perpetuate racial injustice. An analysis of the case of residential segregation shows how the pursuit of individual goods in racialized opportunity structures like the housing market simultaneously hinders the common good.

6. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Dennis J. Wieboldt III Orcid-ID

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In 1967, the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe, sent a memorandum on the American “racial crisis” to the Jesuit priests, brothers, and social institutions of the United States. Through appeals to the American legal and Catholic moral traditions, On the Interracial Apostolate articulated why Jesuits should strive to achieve racial equality, initiating a historic period of expansion in Jesuit civil rights programs. Given scholars’ limited engagement with On the Interracial Apostolate’s distinctive rhetorical features, this article explains why the document was framed within the discursive framework of prophetic indictment by uncovering the influence of William J. Kenealy, a Jesuit legal scholar, on the document’s drafting. In light of this drafting history, this article concludes by suggesting that the emergence of twentieth-century “Jesuit anti-racism” can, in part, be explained by how questions about racial equality came to be understood as discrete expressions of broader debates about the American legal tradition’s moral foundations.

7. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Sara K. Kolmes, Orcid-ID Steven A. Kolmes Orcid-ID

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Pollution results from humankind’s failure to be good stewards of creation. Guided by Catholic environmental bioethics, Catholic health care organizations have reduced their contribution to this pollution, but they also encounter its human cost. Catholic hospitals treat countless patients sickened by pollution, which most strongly impacts the poor and disenfranchised—those whom the Church expresses a preferential responsibility to care for, in part via the charity care that Catholic health care provides. The poor encounter another cost of pollution: the financial cost of seeking health care, particularly in the US. The authors argue that Catholic health care institutions should take the moral harm of pollution seriously by reducing the financial burden on those sickened by pollution. As an example, they highlight the situation of those sickened by lead exposure in the US and outline how Catholic health care institutions could consider lessening the financial burden of treating this sickness.

8. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
James B. Gould Orcid-ID

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This paper uses themes from Catholic social teaching to challenge Church and society to prioritize a group that is left behind by social injustice: people with intellectual disabilities. It provides background information on intellectual disability, summarizes moral principles of Catholic social doctrine, describes sociological facts about how people with intellectual disabilities are left behind by social factors, and prescribes actionable solutions for treating them as equal members of society. The goal is to identify how to shape a society at all socio-ecological levels in ways that better protect the dignity, solidarity, and participation of people with intellectual disabilities. Although the analysis references the US and is limited to intellectual disabilities, its lessons apply to other countries and disabilities as well.

book reviews

9. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Brian P. Flanagan Orcid-ID

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10. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Meghan J. Clark Orcid-ID

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11. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Roger Bergman Orcid-ID

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12. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Jens Mueller

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13. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Eli McCarthy, Anna Blackman

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nonviolence and just peace: colonialism, intersectionality, and interfaith

14. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
SimonMary Asese A. Aihiokhai Orcid-ID

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Realizing that the survival of the Church within the Roman Empire was at stake as the empire experienced constant attacks and invasions from the so-called barbarians, the early Church articulated a vision of peace that used war as a legitimate means for realizing it. What is most important in this response to war is the reality of the sociopolitical markers defining the era. Contemporary societies are faced with different sociopolitical realities. The fact that the nation-state is coded with its own existential markers as a political entity that defines the contemporary world makes it necessary to articulate a vision of peacebuilding that does not necessarily follow the response of the early Church in a slavish manner. Consequently, the African palaver approach to peacebuilding is a deliberate attempt to respond to the signs of the times such that it leads to the cultivation of socio-cosmological harmony.
15. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Daniel P. Castillo

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The Beatitudes have long functioned as a cornerstone for spiritualities of nonviolence. In that tradition, this essay explores how active nonviolence, rooted in the hope of the third Matthean beatitude—“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”—can be understood as a response to the interrelated cries of the earth and the oppressed within history. To concretize the demands of a political ecology of nonviolence, the essay then examines how the legacies of Western extractive colonialism have shaped the contours of the contemporary planetary emergency, an emergency that is social, cultural, economic, and ecological in nature. The essay concludes by considering how the practice of meekness, in response to the interrelated cries of the earth and the oppressed, might be lived out within the contemporary historical moment.
16. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Eliane Lakam

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Violence is often understood as a phenomenon characterized by direct physical harm customarily motivated by willful malice. In his 2017 World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis challenges this narrow definition, noting that violence is not confined to physical harm but also includes environmental devastation, which, as he points out, disproportionately harms the most vulnerable members of the planet. Following this claim, this article probes the interrelationship between care for creation, nonviolence, and racial justice, highlighting the significance of this intersectionality within Catholic social teaching. It reflects on Francis’s reading of Gospel nonviolence and his notion of integral ecology, and concludes with a case study that demonstrates the practical application of Francis’s social teachings on creating a more just, nonviolent, and sustainable world.
17. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Erin M. Brigham, Orcid-ID Jonathan D. Greenberg

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In his writings, Pope Francis describes a culture of interfaith and intercultural encounter as the foundation of lasting peace, friendship, and reconciliation among peoples. Far from superficial, a culture of encounter is built upon the slow work of honoring differences and forming social bonds across differences. In the first part of this paper, the authors investigate correspondences between the theology of encounter in the teaching and witness of Martin Buber and Pope Francis, in which the sacred, the ground of reality, and the potential for redemption are revealed in the engaged space “between” self and other. In the second part of the paper, they explore how these ideas are actualized in practices of nonviolence, such as dialogue. In conclusion, they identify how these ideas and role models suggest a road map to build a culture of nonviolence and just peace through encounter within fractured societies throughout the world today.

nonviolence and just peace: catholic formation and parish life

18. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Anna Blackman

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In his 2022 World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis argues that education serves as an essential mechanism in building “lasting peace.” However, though an ethic of nonviolence has been gaining traction within Church teaching, education for nonviolence remains far from mainstream. This paper will argue that education has a vital role to play in the flourishing of a nonviolent Church. In doing so, it will question how an education for nonviolence might be approached, drawing on Dorothy Day as an exemplar of both pedagogy and praxis.
19. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Casey Mullaney Orcid-ID

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Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli tutti elevates some key themes of his papacy. Using the parable of the Good Samaritan as a framing narrative, Francis outlines an active, nonviolent style of politics and social engagement based on practices of attention and hospitality toward one’s neighbors. Francis refers to this mode of engagement as “social friendship.” Francis’s pastoral letters and homilies draw from the content and methodologies common to Latin American liberation theology, but many of his insights are mirrored in an Anglo-American context through the witness of the Catholic Worker movement. This paper looks to the Catholic Worker for a mode by which the Gospel of social friendship can be lived out through asceses of attention and hospitality to the unhoused. Social friendship leads one to responsible action, and universal membership in the Body of Christ calls into question the structures that oppress the vulnerable.
20. Journal of Catholic Social Thought: Volume > 20 > Issue: 2
Marc Tumeinski Orcid-ID

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One underappreciated aspect of the practice of nonviolence and just peace is the imperative for the Church to welcome those on the margins, including children and adults with physical and/or intellectual impairments who are vulnerable to dehumanization. Too many children and adults with impairments and their families have not been fully welcomed as sisters and brothers in their local parish. Catholics can draw on a rich theology of peacebuilding in Scripture, Tradition, and Church teaching to respond to these vulnerabilities. Such ongoing transformation is a sign that the Church is being built up in peace and offers a model of communion among a diversity of people.