Catholic Studies



Document Type




John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio is of astonishing importance for the methodology of Catholic social teaching. This article highlights three points that emerged as contributions of Fides et Ratio to the epistemology and methodology of the social magisterium. According to Gaudium et Spes, Catholic social teaching is essentially a service of the Church that affects social life indirectly by making a free offer of sense and faith. Fides et Ratio reinforces this paradigm shift by rejecting fideism also in matters of social morality. In this, it goes beyond Vatican I, Dei Filius. The encyclical further clarifies that the method of Catholic social teaching is tripartite and requires the cooperation of at least three disciplines: theology, philosophy, and social sciences. Because of the shifting character of history, Catholic social teaching too fluctuates. It is sensitive to time and place, to history and culture.

Published in

Modern Theology

Citation/Other Information

Schlag, M. (2020). The Methodological Impact of Fides et Ratio on Catholic Social Teaching. Modern Theology, 36(4), 699–718.