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Living the Catholic Social Tradition

Cases and Commentary

Edited by Kathleen Maas Weigert and Alexia K. Kelley - Contributions by William P. Bolan; Patrick J. Hayes; Monika K. Hellwig; Christopher C. Kelly; Bishop John J. Leibrecht; Thomas Massaro, SJ; Joseph M. Palacios S.J.; Steven M. Rodenborn; David Rusk; Kathleen Dolan Seipel; Rev. Robert J. Vitillo and Todd David Whitmore

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In a time when the global and national economies seem to favor so few and harm so many, when the threats to the common good are so prevalent and so deep, how do people of faith think about these issues and act with those who are most vulnerable? Living the Catholic Social Tradition: Cases and Commentary addresses these challenges through contemporary theory and research conducted within the framework of the rich Catholic social tradition.

Co-editors Kathleen Maas Weigert and Alexia Kelley combine four essays from leading scholars with eight concrete case studies based on community social justice projects across the country. This unique combination of theory and reflective practice provides university students and adult learners with a framework for understanding the Catholic social tradition and a demonstration of its positive social impact on the people it serves.

The reader first learns about the challenges facing Catholic universities in educating the current generation about the Catholic social tradition. The next essays provide insights into the ways in which the tradition frames and contributes to social change; approaches to understanding the key concepts and documents that make up the tradition; and an understanding of the forces confronting change agents in major metropolitan areas. Undertaken by younger scholars and activists, the eight case studies tackle the issues that grass roots groups and visionary leaders face as they try to bring about positive change in their communities.

Living the Catholic Social Tradition will help readers assess and address different social justice issues within the framework of Catholic social thought. In that process, readers are called upon to think how they might not only contribute to the tradition, but develop it further, thus bringing the Catholic social tradition alive in contemporary times.
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Sheed & Ward
Pages: 248Size: 6 1/4 x 9
978-0-7425-3187-1 • Hardback • December 2004 • $96.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7425-3188-8 • Paperback • November 2004 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4616-7499-3 • eBook • November 2004 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
Kathleen Maas Weigert is the first Director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service and Research Professor in both the Department of Sociology & Anthropology and the Program on Justice & Peace at Georgetown University. She co-edited America's Working Poor and is one of the authors of The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans, which received the "1998 Award for Excellence in Research" from the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.
Alexia K. Kelley is currently Program Director at Environmental Resources Trust in Washington DC, where she focuses on partnerships to support renewable energy. For nine years she worked at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in media, development and outreach.
Part 1 Foreword
Part 2 Preface
Part 3 Part I: Framing Essays
Chapter 4 Living the Catholic Social Tradition: Introduction and Overview
Chapter 5 Social Change Strategies for the Future of Metropolitan Areas
Chapter 6 From Industrialization to Globalization: Church and Social Ministry
Chapter 7 Catholic Social Teaching: Starting with the Common Good
Part 8 Part II: Case Studies
Chapter 9 Introduction to Case Studies
Chapter 10 Young Visionaries in the South Bronx
Chapter 11 The Resurrection Project
Chapter 12 The Neighborhood Development Center
Chapter 13 Oakland Community Organizations' "Faith in Action": Locating the Grassroots Social Justice Mission
Chapter 14 COPS: Putting the Gospel into Action in San Antonio
Chapter 15 Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Chapter 16 Baltimore: BUILD and the Solidarity Sponsoring Committee
Chapter 17 Students Against Sweatshops
Part 18 Resource Section
Part 19 About the Authors
Some books are written to be read. Living the Catholic Social Tradition is written to engage. It doesn't tell you about the Catholic Social Tradition, it draws you to it. Its analysis is so essential you wonder how you did without it. And its case studies give you not only reason to hope, but all the more reason to join in the current of hope.
Suzanne Toton, Ed.D.,, Theology/Religious Studies Department and staff member at The Center for Peace and Justice Education, Villanova University


Living the Catholic Social Tradition presents Catholic social ethics in its most practical light. Instead of repeating well-known principles, the editors gathered authors who are immersed in the practical world and familiar with Catholic social teachings from the "grassroots" level. The pedagogy offered in this book breaks new ground. Readers will be enlightened by the early overview chapters, and find new ways in which the principles of love and justice make practical demands of believers today. This book is a "must read" for anyone concerned with the "faith that does justice."
Stephen J. Pope, Boston College


An indispensable resource for illuminating Catholic Social Teaching, this volume instructs and inspires people of faith to meet the intractable problems of poverty, injustice, the violation of human rights, and environmental degradation with confidence that the world not only must but can be made better. The insightful commentaries and practical case studies inform the intellect, excite the imagination, and resonate deeply with a passionate faith that yearns to be lived out in the world.
Kerry A. Robinson, Director of Development, Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University


Living the Catholic Social Tradition is a valuable addition to the sparse literature of American Catholic social thought and action. The introductory essays are masterfully done by some of our best scholars; they will be useful on their own. The case studies are well chosen and broadly representative of the remarkable spectrum of Catholic social engagement across the United States. Teachers and activists and pastoral ministers will all find this book inspiring and suggestive of projects for schools, parishes and people.
David J. O'Brien, Loyola Professor of Roman Catholic Studies, College of the Holy Cross


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