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Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice

Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2018

Bob Pennington
Pages 85-103

The Cardijn Canon
A Method of Theological Praxis in Contemporary Catholic Social Teaching

The author situates the question of praxis in theological methodology and Catholic Social Teaching in relation to teaching ethics courses in Catholic higher education. The author uses a genealogical strategy to show that Cardinal Joseph Cardijn’s See-Judge-Act methodology of theological praxis has become canonical in Catholic Social Teaching. The author shows that advocates of Cardijn’s methodology include Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Saint Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope Francis. In addition, the author shows that Cardijn’s methodology is used by the committee that drafts Schema XIII, the Conciliar document that becomes Gaudium et Spes. Besides its use in a Western European Catholic Context the author explains that Cardijn’s methodology of theological praxis is appropriated at the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano in Medellin, Colombia (1968); Puebla, Mexico (1979); and Aparecida, Brazil (2007). The author also explains how Cardijn’s methodology of theological praxis is integrated in ethics courses in order to develop students’ ability to discern whether a current business, healthcare, or environmental practice is a sign of the kingdom of God or the anti-kingdom. For the author, Cardijn’s methodology of theological praxis leads students to new insight about realities they are unaware and introduces them to the countercultural wisdom of the Catholic intellectual tradition, as well as the importance of moving beyond critical theological reflection and into the realm of social action.