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Neither Left nor Right: The Compendium of the Social Doctrine

3/11/2005 - 4:10 AM PST

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this article force me to stop and consider my own political and economic vision. There is no doubt that some on both the “right” and the “left” of the political spectrum have tried to clothe their ideologies and “pet” positions in the terminology of this body of teaching. However, the Social Teaching of the Church requires an entirely different approach. You cannot simply take pre-existing political or economic positions and either figuratively or literally “clothe” them in the terminology of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church.

Rather, one must approach this body of teaching in prayer and allow it to inform how one thinks about all of the issues of our age, willing to be challenged by the prophetic dimension of this rich teaching.

Fortunately, the Church who is both our mother and teacher, is also, in the words of the Council Fathers an “expert in humanity.” She has provided those of us who are called to not only know this teaching but to offer it as the path to a building a more just society with a new resource for this important work. The “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” is now available.

This historic work is dedicated to Pope John Paul II who, in his 1999 Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in America," asked for “…a compendium or approved synthesis of Catholic social doctrine…which would show the connection between it and the new evangelization."

The “Compendium” has come at a vitally important time for all Catholics, other Christians and all people of good will who truly desire to build a culture of life and a civilization of love to replace the current culture of death, materialism and nihilism. We are called to follow the way of the Lord, the way of authentic peace and justice, and this Compendium will be a great resource for our task of finding that way.

That way, like the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, is neither right nor left. In the months ahead I will be presenting excerpts from this compendium and developing its themes in a series of articles. All in an effort to unpack the treasure so as to make it known and help, in any way that I can, to promote both the New Evangelization and a New Catholic Action.


Deacon Keith A. Fournier is a Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy with permission. He is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. Long active at the intersection of faith and culture, Deacon Fournier is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. He is the Senior Editor of Catholic Online and a Contributing editor of Traditional Catholic Reports.

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