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Themes in Catholic Thought

3. Catholic Social Thought

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In this module, we examine the history of Catholic social thought from the late 19th century onwards, focusing in particular on (i) the influence of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’ on the tradition of Catholic social thought (ii) the priority of social relationships in Catholic thought (iii) the theological connection between economic and political considerations with love and interrelationships (iv) the Catholic Church’s responses to political structures and ideologies at various points in history (v) the role of the family in Catholic social thought (vi) care for the environment in the tradition of Catholic social thought.


In this course, Professor Lewis Ayres (University of Durham) explores some of the major themes in Catholic thought. In the first module, we consider changes in Catholic doctrine following the publication of four documents of the Second Vatican Council. In the second module, we examine the unique relationship between Church authority and theology, and the ecclesial identity of the Church. In the third module, we look at Catholic social thought, including the Church’s views on economics, politics, relationships, the family, and the environment. In the fourth and final module, we examine the nature and significance of the principle of sacramentality in Catholic theology and social teaching.


Professor Lewis Ayres is a lecturer in Catholic and Historical Theology at Durham University. His research interests are in Trinitarian theology in Augustine and in the Greek writers of the fourth century. His publications include Augustine and the Trinity (2010), and Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Theology (2004).

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APA style

Ayres, L. (2022, July 11). Themes in Catholic Thought - Catholic Social Thought [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ayres, L. "Themes in Catholic Thought – Catholic Social Thought." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Jul 2022,

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