Catholic Social Teaching and Political Science

Social Doctrine of the Church with an emphasis on Political Science

Click here to start the course online for free.

The course delivered by Tonio Fenech B.A. (Hons) Accountancy, FIA, CPA, Malta’s former Minister for Finance, the Economy and Investment for the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in partnership with the Renovação Carismática Católica do Brasil, through is Faith and Politics Secretariat, is being donated to the Archdiocese of Malta for its exclusive use through Catholic Voices Malta and with the permission of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

The objective of this series of talks is to support the formation of Christians laity seeking to interact critically in society, especially in the political sphere, from a Catholic Social Teachings perspective.

The course analyses the Genesis, Development, Thematic in the Church history, discusses the big social issues from today’s perspective and offers a solid background that enables a the participant to view the emerging social and political challenges of today from a Catholic perspective.

The course identifies the values that need to underly the social debate, such as human dignity, the common good, the universal destination of good and the preferential option for the poor and the consequences and responsibilities different social actors in society should carry.

The course seeks to contribute to the formation of Christian leaderships for public positions, in the field of politics, public service, social partners, civil society NGOs and other institutions and associations.  The course can also be an enabling tool to improve Christians political practice in the exercise of citizenship and the work for common good.

Since the course was delivered for an international audience, the sessions are delivered in English.

The Sessions, each around 30 minutes, are divided as follows:

  1. Notions of the Economy and Market Theory
  2. The Social Teachings of the Church
  3. Subsidiarity and the role of Government
  4. Politics and Economic Life – part 1
  5. Politics and Economic Life – part 2
  6. The Business Economy
  7. The Global Economy
  8. Property, Resources and Environment



Sessions Breakdown


  1. Notions of the Economy and Market Theory

What is the Economy

The Liberal / Capitalist economic philosophy

The Marxist economic philosophy

The Catholic economic philosophy

Suggested Readings

Rerum Novarum, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labour, 1891

Quadragesimo Anno, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order, 1931

Centesimus Annus, Encyclical of John Paul II on the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, 1991


  1. The Social Teachings of the Church

The basis of Catholic Social Teaching

Human Dignity

The Common Good

Poverty and Social exclusion the preferential option for the poor

The Universal destination of goods

Suggested Readings

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church from Chapter 1 to 4

Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Second Vatican Council from: Part 1: The Church and Man’s Calling Economic and Social Life from para. 63-72

Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis, 2013 “Some challenges of today’s world” from 52 to 60.


  1. Subsidiarity and Role of Government

Forms of Governance

The Fundamental Values of Social Life

The Principle of Subsidiarity

The Role of the State

Participation & Democracy

The Principle of Solidarity

Relationship of Church and State


Suggested Readings:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – Chapter 8

Libertatis Conscientia, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation. 1987

Encyclical Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII, Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty, 1963

Other optional readings

Encyclical Immortale Dei Pope Leo XIII, Church-State relations,1885.

Encyclical Au Milieu des Sollicitudes, Pope Leo XIII, Church and State in France, 1892.

Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno, Pope Pius XI 1931, Protesting the totalitarian fascist regime in Italy.

Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, Pope Pius XI 1937, The Catholic Church under the German Reich.


  1. Politics and Economic Life Part 1

The Modern Role of the State

Economic Policy and its Goals

The Economy and Morality

The Free Market

Suggested Readings:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – Chapter 7 Economic Life

Encyclical Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II, 1981, on Human Work

  1. Politics and Economic Life Part 2

Fiscal Policy


Public Expenditure

Nationalisation vs Privatisation

Public Debt

Monitory Policy

Suggested Readings:

Mater et Magistra, Pope John XXIII, 1961 on Christianity and Social Progress

  1. The Business Economy  


Financial Markets

Social Enterprise

Rights of Workers

Suggested Readings:

Covered in previous sessions

  1. The Global Economy  

Global Inequalities

Development and Solidarity

Financial Markets


Suggested Readings:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – Chapter 9

Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development 2018


  1. Property, Resources and Environment

Private Property

National Resources

Environment and Sustainability

Suggested Readings:

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church – Chapter 10

Laudate Si, Pope Francis 2015, On the care for our Common Home

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