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Catholic Social Teaching and Legal Institutions Seminars

Thursday 20th March 2014

Overview: Catholic Social Teaching states general principles which require prudential application in different ways at different times and in different parts of the world.


At this time in history, a network of international trade agreements and related international bodies is interconnecting different peoples and standardising economic relationships.  Human relationships in many, mostly agricultural nations, hitherto based on family and clan, are becoming more commercial, ie. utilitarian.  In this new reality, regional and global legal systems and institutions are replacing informal and customary ways.


The seminars will explore


  • the doctrines of subsidiarity and solidarity, which reflect the natural hierarchy and interconnectedness of organic societies;


  • the possibilities of preserving the essential elements of these doctrines within national, regional and global federal institutions.


29th April Is Catholic Social Teaching Marxist?

The opening seminar, led by Professor John Baker, will introduce the subject of Catholic Social Teaching, beginning with the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’s statements in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium  (Nov. 24, 2013) which condemn “trickle-down theories” of economics.  Some critics have accused the Pope of embracing Marxist thought.  The seminar will examine what Catholic Social Teaching is and is not, and distinguish between Catholic Social Teaching by popes and Catholic Social Thought by those in the fields of economics, sociology, political theory and law who attempt to apply that teaching.


6th May The Development of Roman Catholic Social Teaching: the Milestones

This seminar, led by Dr Cherry Hutton, will examine Roman Catholic social teaching from 1890 to 1990 and discuss some of the key principles introduced, located within the context of socio-political and economic situation of the times.


13th May Subsidiarity and Federalism

This seminar, led by Professor John Baker, will examine the origin of and the political-philosophical-legal theories packed within the terms “subsidiarity” and “federalism”, and consider the architecture of certain federal systems (the EU, the US, and the WTO) in the light of the principle of subsidiarity.


20thMay Solidarity and Trade Agreements

This seminar, led by Professor John Baker, will consider different understandings and applications of the term “solidarity”, which has often been associated with unity among workers, and the possible impacts of trade agreements on the social organization of developing countries. 

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