School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

The Church and the Economy in the Modern World

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Book Chapter

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Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Economics | Ethics in Religion | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Very few church documents are widely read and broadly influential. Even fewer are celebrated on an anniversary of their publication. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, is one of a handful of that rank in this century. This essay begins with an overview of the document’s vision of socioeconomic life in the context of Catholic social teaching prior to Vatican II. It includes a brief review of some of the developments in the world and the church since that time which are relevant to a moral assessment of economic activity. It considers the influence of economic science on public moral discourse, and concludes with four critical questions that remain on the agenda for Catholic social thought twenty years after the document was released in its final form.


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Author is listed in this publication as “Daniel Rush Finn.”