Modern Catholic Social Documents and Political Economy

Albino F. Barrera, OP

"A praiseworthy volume. . .. in his search for intelligible patterns in the economic ethic of official Catholic social documents, Barrera's work is most original, quite balanced and well researched."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

As western economies have moved from feudalism to industrialism to the information age, Catholic social thought has kept pace, responding to the economic realities of the day. Linking Catholic social teaching with modern economic theory, Albino F. Barrera examines the changing political economy embedded within the moral theology and social justice documents issued by the Church during the last hundred years.

Barrera discusses the evolution of Catholic social teachings, from scholastic thinking on the concept of the "just price" to a modern emphasis on the importance of a living wage. As the conduct of economic life according to traditional custom and common law has given way to institutional and impersonal market forces, these teachings have moved from a preoccupation with personal moral behavior to an intense scrutiny of the structures of society. Amidst these changes, the Church's social documents have sought to address systemic shortcomings as a means of promoting the common good through economic justice.

Barrera also looks ahead to the challenges posed by a postindustrial society characterized by a global, knowledge-based economy, arguing that Catholic social thought will likely shift its focus from advocacy of the living wage to demands for greater equality of socioeconomic participation. Written for scholars and students of economics, theology, and political science interested in religious social thought, this book bridges the gap between moral theology and economic theory.

Table of Contents



Part I The Economics of the Modern Tradition
Balancing Competing Labor-Management Claims
Agriculture and the Import-Substitution Strategy
Development and Solidaristic Egalitarianism

Part II Retrospective: Evolution from Scholastic Economic Thought
Exchange-Value Determination: From Scholastic Just Price to the Modern Living Wage
From Organic Hierarchy to Individual Rights

Part III Contrast with Normative Mainstream Economic Thought
Anthropological Presuppositions in Economic Thought
Felicific Calculus and Transcendent End
Twofold Objectives

Part IV Postindustrial Social Questions: Participative Egalitarianism
Market-Driven Redistribution of Burdens and Benefits
The Universal Access Principle: Its Evolution and Role in a Knowledge-Based Economy
Superfluous Income Criterion Refined

Part V Conceptual Synthesis
First-Order Principles
Second-Order Principles
The Common Good as Due Order and Due Proportion

Appendix The Economics of Quadragesimo Anno's Vocational Groupings



"A praiseworthy volume. . .. in his search for intelligible patterns in the economic ethic of official Catholic social documents, Barrera's work is most original, quite balanced and well researched."—Theological Studies

"A distinctive contribution of moral theology to the analysis and discussion of differing views of justice relevant to the social and economic order.. a bravo perfomance ."—Forum for Social Economics

"Effectively combines the insights of economics and moral theology. . ..a significant book."—Horizons

"An interesting and provocative introduction to the literature, which. . .has had. . .significant influence in the formulation and execution of economic policy. It will be especially valuable to Catholic economists and other social scientists (as well as theologians) seeking to understand and improve the economic reasoning behind Catholic social teaching."—Faith & Economics

"One should be able to see from this review that Modern Catholic Social Documents is a thought-provoking book, one to be taken seriously and one that raises many issues that Catholic scholars need to address."—Recensioni

"A well balanced and carefully annotated study of the Catholic social documents on political economy within their historical context. I highly recommend it on several scores."—Rev. Monsignor George G. Higgins

"Father Albino Barrera opens up [the tradition] for serious readers interested in serious reflection on the content of Catholic social teaching, and in relating it to contemporary economic problems."—William J. Byron, SJ, pastor, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.; former president of The Catholic University of America


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Albino F. Barrera, OP, is associate professor of humanities teaching theology and economics at Providence College.

352 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-856-6
Aug 2001

352 pp., 6 x 9

Aug 2001

352 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-374-2
Aug 2001

Related Titles