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How to start library research on Catholic social thought and teaching

By Darren G. Poley

Begin your research with reference books on topics related to Catholic social thought and teaching. The print reference collection is located on Falvey’s 2nd floor. Some excellent books to explore are The New dictionary of Catholic social thought, Human rights and the world’s major religions and the Encyclopedia of Catholic social thought, social science, and social policy. The New Catholic Encyclopedia in print or online is another good place to start.

Church documents that contribute to Catholic social teaching, such as Pope John Paul II’s “Compendium of the social doctrine of the Church” and Pope Benedict XVI’s “encyclical on integral human development in charity and truth,” are not only online at the Vatican Web Site (See Compendium and Caritas in veritate) but also shelved with commentaries on church statements (Catholic social thought: American reflections on the Compendium and The moral dynamics of economic life: an extension and critique of Caritas in veritate, for example) in the Falvey West stacks area. There you will also find anthologies of Catholic Church documents as well as scholarly sources on them: The social agenda: a collection of magisterial textsCatholic social thought: the documentary heritage and Modern Catholic social teaching: commentaries and interpretations.

To search by subject using descriptive phrases that match the subject headings in Falvey’s catalog as well as those in many databases, such as the ATLA Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, here are some suggestions: “Christian ethics Catholic authors,” “Christian sociology Catholic Church,” “Church and social problems Catholic Church,” “Globalization Religious aspects Catholic Church,” “Peace Religious aspects Catholic Church,” “Economics Religious aspects Catholic Church” and “Human rights Religious Aspects.”

For some basic resources online that can familiarize you with Catholic Social Teaching, explore “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching” by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or go to Villanova University’s Office for Mission and Ministry resource page. Finally, for a thorough annotated bibliography on the subject, consult Catholic social thought, Renovating the tradition: a keyguide to resources.

Darren Poley is the theology and religious studies subject librarian. Contact him directly at



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Last Modified: February 15, 2013

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