BookReview:The Social Doctrine of the Church—Special Preference for the Poor by Koyama Hideyuki / Kyobunkan / Dec. 2013

book1  Since his election, Pope Francis has infused fresh air into the Church and the world. His recent Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” has had a strong resonance regarding the involvement of the Gospel with society. He says, for instance, “It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven” (182), or “If indeed the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,” the Church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice” (183). “Our faith in Christ, who became poor and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members” (186). Taking these into account, it is easy to realize why he selected Francis as his papal name.
  The official social doctrine of the Catholic Church is based on the Gospel and, in the face of various world movements, continues to provide the most appropriate answers to problems of the age. Naturally, each age has its own limitations, but the understanding of the social doctrine is continually winning ground.
  It is helpful to read the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (2004, Japanese translation 2009) in order to obtain a full knowledge of this social doctrine. It is a thick book compiled according to different themes. There is also a handy booklet edited by the Social and Pastoral Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference called “Why does the Church get involved in social issues? Q&A.” This booklet is historically deficient. Years ago our Social Center also published a booklet called, “Catholic Social Doctrine—Looking at the teachings of successive Popes” (1989, Don Bosco publications), which reviewed the most important subjects of social doctrine.
  The book that Fr Koyama Hideyuki has just published shows the main historical elements of Catholic social doctrine. The book calls our attention to Pope Francis’ main concern, a “special preference to the poor,” which had been partially contained in the Church’s social teaching but is now clearly linked to it. Why does the present Pope speak in this way? I think you will find the answer by reading the book.
(Mitsunobu Ichiro, Jesuit Social Center)

Comments are closed.