Towards a politics of communion catholic social teaching in dark times


This book represents a decade of research on the magisterial tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. The book aims to be a carefully researched and coherently presented account of the evolution of the papal tradition of social teaching as it interacts both with the changing social, political, economic, cultural and ecological terrain of the last 150 years and with the relevant secular theoretical and philosophical-political changes of this same period. The book begins with an exploration of the anthropological and epistemological claims of the papal social tradition, which I argue are the understated “foundations” of the encyclical tradition. The following chapters explore the main tenets of the tradition, investigating its historical evolution and major influences, and addressing the question of its adequacy to guide broader interdisciplinary and practical socio-political engagement today. The book establishes a dialogue between the major papal social encyclicals and other influential “lay” Catholic philosophical thinkers of the last seventy years, including Joseph Pieper, Simone Weil and Charles Taylor. In its concluding chapters, the book attempts to make new connections in the area of integral ecology, relating and extending what the tradition has to say about work, land and bodies. This seems to be fertile ground for the next developments in the tradition. The innovation of this book lies in its attempt to offer a rigorous scholarly view of the historical and metaphysical development of the tradition, and in its attempt to offer the tradition to current debates in philosophy, social theory, and moral economics. Drawing on Pope Benedict’s writings on faith and reason in Caritas in Veritate and his 2010 Westminster Hall address, the book aims to stimulate an engaged and integrated form of “expanded reason.”


Anna Rowlands

Anna Rowlands is a renowned professor at Durham University, where she holds the distinguished St. Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought since 2021. His distinguished career includes a second formal position at the Vatican University, the Synod Office and the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. In addition, Anna is President of Women at the Well, a charity that provides support to women affected by prostitution. Her social commitment is also reflected in her participation as a consultant at the Theology and Community Center in London. Anna has been a panelist at the launch of the Papal Encyclical Fratelli Tutti and serves on the Research Management Committee of the William Leech Foundation.