This book “Catholic Social Teachings: Towards a Catholic Faith in Action” is written by Fr. Dr. Prakash Louis and published by the Indian Social Institute with a foreword by Bishop Gerald Almeida, the Chairperson of Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. Undoubtedly this is a timely book which makes a humble attempt to present the social teachings of the Church in the Indian context. This is a ‘Handbook for Internalising the Catholic Social Teachings and Formulating Action’. The book basically tries to locate the place and role of social teachings of the Church in an Indian Christian’s life and mission.
Social Encyclicals or Catholic Social Teachings (CST) or the Social Doctrines of the Church are the Church’s institutional response to the social problems of a given time period. The social teaching of the church is a rich heritage of ethical reflections and insights on the social, economic and political questions of our contemporary world.
Pope Leo who wrote the first encyclical stated, “The church has never failed to speak the words that are hers with regard to questions concerning the life in society”. Saint John XXIII declared, “It is not enough merely to formulate a social doctrine. It must be translated into reality. And this is particularly true of the Church's social doctrine, the light of which is Truth, Justice its objective, and Love its driving force. Saint John Paul II wrote “The church’s social teaching is not only a doctrine but a way of life… the church’s teaching itself is a kind of worship, a place where all people are called to labour to bring about a better social order”. These words of the popes capture the context, content, objectives and the expected outcome of the Catholic Social Teachings.
Fr. Dr. Prakash Louis has sub-titled the Handbook, “The Best Kept Secrets”. This is to emphasise the fact that the rich tradition of the Church remains totally unknown to most of the Catholics. This is all the more true in India. At the most this is taught in some seminaries and talked about in some seminars. Thus not all the priests and religious know this are aware of or try to put this in practice. Or at the most, the social ministry of the Church would talk about it in some meetings. But for the lay faithful and women religious this is still a best kept secret.
Taking into account these facts, this Handbook is published for dissemination, internalization and action. This Handbook is not only meant for the Catholics or Christians but it is also to be shared in a meaningful way with the people of all religions, cultures, background and communities who want to work towards establishing a better village, better community, better society, better nation, better world, better environment and a better humanity.
(Published on 14th October 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 42)