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Towards Interpreting Signs of the Times, Conversation with the World and Inclusion of the Poor: Three Challenges for Catholic Social Teaching

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Catholic social thought is a complex living tradition of practice and thought, a continuing learning process at the point of intersection of gospel with life. Central to this is the need to ‘interpret the signs of the times’. Today, the Catholic Church is presented with three challenges in meeting this call: first, a conflict of interpretation emerging through a shift from the world oriented theology of ‘Gaudium et Spes’ to the doctrinal distinctiveness of the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI; secondly, a lack of conversation among Bishops, movements, non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians; and thirdly, the need to re-interpret the preferential option for the poor. This article argues that it is not sufficient to simply interpret the sign of the times, the Catholic Church is also called to be an agent of change, which requires a theology capable of simultaneously taking seriously the signs of the times and the radical perspective of the gospel message. It must include strategies for change which take into account the interaction between individuals and institutions, inspiration and policy, charity and justice.

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University of Leuven Belgium


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