Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: Deborah C Poff, Alex C. Michalos

Catholic Social Thought

  • Domènec Melé
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-23514-1_248-1



Catholic Social Thought (CSTh) refers to the reflection developed by Catholic thinkers, theologians, and other scholars on social life and specific social issues, as well as the ideas, proposals, and the experience of Catholic people involved in social issues.

Central to this thought is Catholic Social Teaching (CST) or Social Doctrine of the Church, formulated by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and expressed in councils, papal encyclical-letters, bishops’ pastoral letters, and other documents. John Paul II has defined CST as “the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church’s tradition” (John Paul II 1981, no. 41).

CST includes values and virtues for social life, along with ethical...

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Main Pontifical CST Documents*

  1. Benedict XVI (2009) Encyclical Letter ‘Caritas in Veritate’ on love in truthGoogle Scholar
  2. Francis (2015) Encyclical-Letter ‘Laudato si’, on the Catholic vision of ecologyGoogle Scholar
  3. John Paul II (1981) Encyclical-Letter ‘Laborem Exercerns’ on human workGoogle Scholar
  4. John Paul II (1987) Encyclical-Letter ‘Sollicitudo rei socialis’ on human developmentGoogle Scholar
  5. John Paul II (1991) Encyclical-Letter ‘Centesimus annus’ on economy and societyGoogle Scholar
  6. John XXIII (1961) Encyclical-Letter ‘Mater et Magistra’ on the socio-economic orderGoogle Scholar
  7. John XXIII (1963) Encyclical-Letter ‘Pacem in Terris’ on human rights and peaceGoogle Scholar
  8. Leo XIII (1891) Encyclical-Letter ‘Rerum Novarum’ on the human laborGoogle Scholar
  9. Paul VI (1967) Encyclical-Letter ‘Populorum Progressio’ on the development of peopleGoogle Scholar
  10. Paul VI (1972) Apost. Letter ‘Octogesima Adveniens’ on ideologies and social problemsGoogle Scholar
  11. Pius XI (1931) Encyclical Letter ‘Quadragesimo Anno’ on socio-economic lifeGoogle Scholar
  12. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (2004) Compendium of the social doctrine of the church. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del VaticanoGoogle Scholar
  13. Vatican Council II (1965) Pastoral Constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’ on the Church in modern worldGoogle Scholar
  14. *Available at vatican.vaGoogle Scholar

Additional Reading

  1. Abela AV (2001) Profit and more: Catholic social teaching and the purpose of the firm. J Bus Ethics 31(2):107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arroyo G (2003) Catholic ethical resources for business and the economy. Lat Am Bus Rev 4(4):95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cortright SA, Naugthon M (eds) (2002) Rethinking the purpose of business. Interdisciplinary essays from the Catholic social tradition. Notre Dame University Press, Notre DameGoogle Scholar
  4. Cornwall JR, Naughton MJ (2003) Who is the good entrepreneur? An exploration within the Catholic social tradition. J Bus Ethics 44(1/2):61–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Finn D (2012) Human work in Catholic social thought. Am J Econ Sociol 71(4):874–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Laczniak GR (1999) Distributive justice, Catholic social teaching, and the moral responsibility of marketers. J Public Policy Market 18(1):125–129Google Scholar
  7. Kohls J, Christensen SL (2002) The business responsibility for wealth distribution in a globalized political-economy: merging moral economics and Catholic social teaching. J Bus Ethics 35(3):223–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McCarthy DM (ed) (2009) The heart of Catholic social teaching: its origins and contemporary significance. Brazos Press, Grand RapidsGoogle Scholar
  9. Melé D, Dierksmeier C (eds) (2012) Human development in business. Values and humanistic management in the in the encyclical “caritas in Veritate”. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Melé D, Schlag M (eds) (2015) Humanism in economics and business. Perspectives of the Catholic social tradition. Springer, Dordrecht/HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  11. Melé D, Alford H, Guitián GMN, Porras A, Moreno A (2017) Catholic social teaching. In: Sison AJG, Beabout GR, Ferrero I (eds) Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, Part IV, vol 1. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 151–220Google Scholar
  12. PCJP (Pontificium Consilium Justice and Peace) (2012) Vocation of the Business Leader. A Reflection. Available at www.iustitiaetpax.va
  13. Sandelands L (2009) The business of business is the human person: lessons from the Catholic social tradition. J Bus Ethics 85(1):93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schlag M (ed) (2017) Handbook of Catholic social teaching: a guide for Christians in the world today. Catholic University of America Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  15. Schlag M (2017) The business Francis means: understanding the Pope’s message on the economy. Catholic University of America Press, WashingtonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Steinfels P (1988) From Adam smith to the American Catholic bishops: debating visions of economic life. J Bus Ethics 7(6):405–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Turkson PKA (2018) Pope Francis’ Integral Human Development: an Inclusive Growth Proposal. Humanistic Manag J 2(2):199–209Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair Business Ethics, IESE Business SchoolUniversity of NavarraBarcelona CampusSpain

Section editors and affiliations

  • Domènec Melé
    • 1
  1. 1.Chair Business Ethics, IESE Business SchoolUniversity of NavarraBarcelonaSpain