U.S., Canadian bishops publish compendium of Church’s social teaching

The United States and Canadian bishops this week released the long-awaited “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” Published by the Vatican in October 2004, the synthesis of Catholic social doctrine has now been reissued exclusively for American and Canadian audiences. 

Designed as a companion to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” it contains a complete overview of the Church’s doctrine on Catholic social teaching, presented in a simple and straightforward format that makes it accessible to all.

The Compendium, published after a request Pope John Paul II made in 1999, covers all the challenging cultural and social issues facing society today. It tackles issues, such as human rights, terrorism, the family and marriage, workers rights’, economic systems, peace and war, private property, poverty, the death penalty and politics. It is the first Vatican release of its kind in the history of the Church.

The 480-page book is organized in three parts. The first deals with the fundamentals of social doctrine. The second discusses the various social issues. The third contains a series of recommendations for the use of social doctrine in the pastoral activity of the Church and in the life of Christians.

The work is accompanied by two useful indexes: a complete reference index to citations from Scripture and Vatican documents as well as other sources, and also an extensive 164-page analytical index.

The document is not intended exclusively for Catholics. In an introductory letter to the Compendium, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano writes: “Followers of other religions and all people of good will can find herein fruitful occasions for reflection and a common motivation for the internal development of every person.”

Since the American edition was first announced in late 2004, USCCB director of marketing Patrick Markey said the USCCB has received requests for copies “by government officials and think-tanks and by many members of the nation’s academic community.”

The U.S. edition is selling for $24.95. The Canadian edition is selling for CAD $29.95.

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