2 page single space summary of GAUDIUM ET SPES by Pope Paul VI
THL 391.01 Handout: Short
Catholic Social Thought Paper Guide
The purpose of the five short papers (4 pages, single-spaced) is to analyze the various documents that we
will be reading in this course. Essentially, you will want to show me that you have (a) read and understood
the text in question and that (b) you have understood its importance for how we (can) live our lives.
Points to Discuss
In order to accomplish the twofold goal of the assignment, each paper should highlight two areas of
concern. First, in the opening section, you should note the key moral issues raised by each document and
the suggestions the document makes for addressing those issues. The first section of the essay will typically
be its longest portion. Second, the concluding section of the paper should consist of your reflections on how
the document is pertinent to issues in the present. Put differently, the second section will consist of a
discussion of what impact the text may have for how Christians live in the present.
Suggestions for Effective Writing
Outlining: Create an outline before you commence writing. Otherwise, your essay is more prone to be
aimless. Just as a skeleton provides the human body with a shape, thereby making it capable of movement,
so too does an outline give shape to your thought and allow for progression.
Individual Paragraphs: Only rarely will paragraphs in formal essays have less than three sentences. As
with the essay as a whole, each paragraph should be organized logically with one point leading to the next.
In addition, each paragraph, save for the introductory paragraph, should include a topic sentence that states
the purpose of the paragraph. Generally, the topic sentence will be the first sentence.
Introductory Paragraph: The purpose of the introductory paragraph is twofold: to let the reader know
what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Accordingly, it should consist of at least two
elements. First, it needs a clear thesis statement that highlights the point you want to make. Second, it
should have a “map” that indicates the way the discussion will unfold, that is, what topics will be discussed.
Concluding Paragraph: The basic purpose of the final paragraph is to leave the reader with a lasting
impression. Specifically, it should concisely recapture what the reader should take from the preceding
material, so that he or she will not miss the proverbial forest for the trees. Additionally, concluding
paragraphs often situate the topic under consideration within a wider frame of reference.
Time Writing is a lot like cooking: to do it well, you need time. Thoughts, like sauces, need to simmer. A
general rule of thumb is that it takes a minimum of 2-3 hours per typed page to go from first draft to
finished product. That means that rewriting is a natural part of the process. Also, you will find the final
stages of the process easier if you finish writing several days before the assignment is due, put it aside, and
then look back over it, not only to proofread it, but also to make sure that it says what it needs to say.
Book Titles: Titles of books should either be underlined or italicized, not put in quotation marks.
Foreign Language Terms: Foreign words should also be underlined or italicized, rather than put in
Slang and Contractions: In formal writing, be sure to avoid slang words and phrases (e.g., “a huge issue,”
when “significant issue” would be better), as well as contractions (e.g., “don’t”).
Spelling: A common problem with writing in fields like theology is misspelled words, especially with
names and technical theological terms. If you are not sure about the spelling of a term, look it up.
Frequently, textbooks, especially the index, can be as helpful as dictionaries for this purpose. Note: with
some terms, particularly transliterations of foreign terms, there is more than one correct way to spell the
Plagiarism: (Taken from Cheryl Glenn and Loretta Gray, The Hodges Harbrace Handbook, 18th. ed.
: 498, author’s emphasis): “Taking even part of someone else’s work and presenting it as your own
leaves you open to criminal charges. In the film, video, music, and software businesses, this sort of theft is
called piracy. In publishing and education, it is called plagiarism. Whatever it is called, it is illegal, and
penalties range from failing a paper or a course to being expelled from school. Never compromise your
integrity or risk your future by submitting someone else’s work as your own.” As this statement indicates,
plagiarism is a serious issue. Therefore, you should avoid doing it at all costs. The odd thing about
plagiarism is that is so easily avoided: simply cite those sources that you use, either with footnotes/endnotes
or parenthetical citations.
Citations: When citing material from the primary sources, you may use parenthetical citations with the
accepted abbreviation for the document along with the pertinent section number(s). The format will look
like this: (RN, no. 3 or RN, no.3 [single section] or QA, nos. 4-5 or QA, nos. 4-5 [plural sections]). Any
secondary sources that you employ should be cited by means of footnotes, using the format indicated in the
accompanying style guide.
Abbreviations: Here are the typical abbreviations for the documents from Catholic Social Teaching that
we will be looking at in this course.
Rerum Novarum (RN) Caritas in Veritate (CV)
Pacem in Terris (PT) Laudato Si’ (LS)
Gaudium et Spes (GS) The Challenge of Peace (CP)
Evangelium Vitae (EV)
Secondary Sources: For these papers, you will not be required to look at anything other than the primary
sources. However, you may find it helpful to look at secondary sources in order to better understand a given
document. Here are a few texts that can be found in our library:
• Charles E. Curran. American Catholic Social Ethics: Twentieth-Century Approaches. Notre Dame,
IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982. On Reserve.
• Charles E. Curran. Catholic Social Teaching, 1891-Present: A Historical, Theological, and
Ethical Analysis. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002. On Reserve.
• Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormick, eds. Readings in Moral Theology, No. 5: Official
Catholic Social Teaching. New York: Paulist Press, 1986. On Reserve.
• Donal Dorr. Option for the Poor: A Hundred Years of Vatican Social Teaching. Maryknoll, NY:
Orbis Books, 1992. On Reserve.
• Judith A. Dwyer, ed. The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought. Collegeville, MN: The
Liturgical Press, 1994. Reference BX 1753.N497 1994.
• Kenneth R. Himes, ed. Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations.
Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2005. On Reserve.
• Michael J. Schuck. That They Be One: The Social Teaching of the Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1989.
Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1991. On Reserve.
Quotations: People who do not have a lot of experience writing are prone to misuse quotes. When you
give a quote, you need to explain and contextualize the quote, in part to show that you are not using it out
of context. You can accomplish this task by highlighting how the passage in question fits into the larger
flow of the author’s argument. Moreover, do not assume that the meaning of the quote is self-evident. At
some point in your analysis, be sure to summarize its main point, avoiding as much as possible the author’s
- General Comments
- Points to Discuss
- Suggestions for Effective Writing
- Common Problems