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Title: God, Society and the Human Person: The Basics of Catholic Social Teaching 

Author: Edward T. Mechmann 
ISBN: 0-8189-0886-6 
Paperback: xii + 84 pp. 
Price: $7.95 + shipping 

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Catholic Social Teaching has a rich and venerable tradition reaching back to the very earliest days of the Church and has been expounded by the greatest thinkers in the Church from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas to Popes Leo XIII and John Paul II. The purpose of this book is to draw together and to organize Catholic social teaching as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents, and to arrange that teaching according to its major foundational principles and themes. The goal is to provide a reasonable and very readable overview of the social doctrine of the Church along with some examples of its practical application. In this way, the relationship between the social teaching of the Church and other dogmas of the faith may more clearly be seen and its relevance to real problems in the real world made strikingly apparent.
Edward T. Mechmann graduated from Columbia College magna cum laude in 1981 and from Harvard Law School cum laude in 1984. He later received a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the St. Joseph's Seminary Institute of Religious Studies in 1994. Following law school, he was employed as a prosecutor in New York City from 1984 to 1993 when he and his wife left to serve as lay missionaries in West Virginia. Since 1994, he has been employed by the Archdiocese of New York, first as the Coordinator of the Public Policy Education Network, and presently as the Assistant Director of the Family Life+Respect Life Office. In that capacity he assisted in the development of the marriage preparation booklet, Partners in Life and Love (Alba House, 1996). He has written several articles on religion and law for The New York Law Journal


"One of the least known and yet greatest treasures of the Catholic Church is its social teaching. So often this teaching is embodied in papal documents and episcopal letters which are not easily accessible to many Cathoics. In this slim 83-page book, Mechmann gives the reader the basics of Catholic social teaching. Mechmann, a lawyer with a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, works for the Archdiocese of New York as assistant director of the Family Life+Respect Life Office. In the preface he states: 'Cathoic social teaching concerns the right ordering of society, so that its members may fulfill their earthly vocations and attain their eternal destiny. As such, it is a branch of moral theology, and is dedicated to the formation of conscience of those who are responsible for the organization of the human community.' This teaching, then, affects all of us who live and work in this world. Basing his work on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and on papal and conciliar teachings, Mechmann begins by examining the nature of the human person, which is central to Catholic social teaching. The human person is made in the image and likeness of God, yet human nature is flawed by original sin and is inclined to evil and error. From these considerations Mechmann moves on to consider the social nature of humans and their activity, which is to be marked by freedom and accountability. In the second part of the work he looks at the general themes of Catholic social teaching. Here he takes up such topics as the centrality and dignity of the human person, the natural law, the common good, and social justice. He notes that human life must be protected by society, in which all members have rights and obligations. While much of this teaching can be on the level of general principles, they are principles that guide and govern our life and the judgments we make. In an appendix, the author relates these principles to questions and problems raised by the application of Catholic social teaching. This is a rich resource for anyone seeking a primer on Catholic social teaching or wanting to refresh his or her knowledge of these basics needed to guide and govern our lives." --Liguorian, February 2001

"A new look at some 'old' social justice issues: Likely helpful to parish social justice committees and others who ponder the Church's teaching and society's challenges: Small but thought- and faith-packed book from lawyer, one-time prosecutor, lay missionary, husband, father and experienced Church administrator (in NY Archdiocese), Edward T. Mechmann. Title: God, Society and the Human Person: The Basics of Catholic Social Teaching. The book is rooted in an effort to collect Catholic social teaching as per the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents, viewed from principles and themes deemed 'foundational.' While aiming at such a wide-based task, the book keeps to a readable text with practical applications; it is never an academic exercise. In 2 parts: Christian Anthropology (Nation of the Human Person), examined in 6 chapters; and General Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (13 sections). With discussion tips as well as a practical appendix: Questions / Problems Raised by the Application of Catholic Social Teaching." --Crux of the News, May 7, 2001

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