cover of book
 

Counsels of Imperfection: Thinking Through Catholic Social Teaching
by Edward Hadas
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3332-1 | Paper: 978-0-8132-3331-4
Library of Congress Classification BX1753.H2235 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 261.1

ABOUT THIS BOOK | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
For more than a century, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church has attempted to walk along with the modern world, criticizing what is bad and praising what is good. Counsels of Imperfection described the current state of that fairly bumpy journey.

The book is divided into 11 chapters. First comes an introduction to ever-changing modernity and the unchanging Christian understanding of human nature and society. Then come two chapters on economics, including a careful delineation of the Catholic response, past and present, to socialism and capitalism. The next topic is government, with one chapter on Church and State, another on War, and a third that runs quickly through democracy, human rights, the welfare state, crimes and punishments (including the death penalty), anti-Semitism, and migration.

Counsels of Imperfection then dedicates two chapters on ecology, including an enthusiastic analysis of Francis’s “technocratic paradigm”. The last topic is the family teaching, which presents the social aspects of the Church’s sexual teaching. A brief concluding chapter looks at the teaching’s changing response to the modern world, and at the ambiguous Catholic appreciation of the modern idea of progress.

For each topic, Counsels of Imperfection provides biblical, historical and a broad philosophical background. Thomas Aquinas appears often, but so does G. W. F Hegel. The goal is not only to explain what the Church really says, but also how it got to its current position and who it is arguing with. In the spirit of a doctrine that is always in development, Counsels of Imperfection points out both strong-points and imperfections in the teaching.

The book should be of interest to specialists in Catholic Social Teaching, but its main audience is curious newcomers, especially people who do not want to be told that there are simple Catholic answers to the complicated problems of the modern world.
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