Paradigm Shift in the Social Doctrine of the Church: From Rerum Novarum (1891) to Caritas in Veritate (2009)

  • Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes
Part of the Ethical Economy book series (SEEP, volume 41)


The author is the former President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Pope Benedict XVI has publicly acknowledged his contribution to the second part of the encyclical Deus Caritas Est. His essay is a panoramic display of the evolution of the Church’s social teaching. He starts out with Rerum novarum and its neo-Scholastic character based on the natural law theory. He shows the impulses received from John XXIII and is critical of M.D. Chenu’s interpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on the “signs of the times.” Chenu’s interpretation meant converting history into a source of revelation and fragmenting the Church’s doctrine in singular into a pluralism of doctrines. Even though stressing the fact that the Church’s social teaching is based both on reason and revelation, after a detailed analysis of the second part of the encyclical Deus Caritas Est, the author arrives at the conclusion that Benedict XVI underscores theocentrism. This constitutes a paradigm shift.


Catholic Social Teaching Social Doctrine Vatican Council Church Teaching Moral Theology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PaderbornGermany

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