Some time ago I wanted to better understand the social encyclicals and so I started to go through them with a fine tooth comb, summing each and every paragraph up in a sentence or two. That process led me to create a paragraph-by-paragraph summary of Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical which started Catholic Social Teaching.

I’ve used that summary with students and friends for years, and now I’ve added on a short introduction to the document and published it as the first in a series of short booklets on the social teaching documents. Each installment of the series will include a short introduction to the encyclical or exhortation or declaration from the Church followed by a paragraph-by-paragraph summary.

Students of the social teaching can use these booklets as aides in their studies because it is easier to read these than the original documents. Which brings up a conundrum. I would prefer that students read the original texts. There is much to be gained by doing so. But I’m also a realist, and as a professor myself, I know how difficult it can be to get students to read. So, I have produced this compromise. I still hope students read the whole texts, if for not other reason that to keep me honest. But I also hope that my little booklets will be helpful to them as they get to know the social teaching itself, not having to depend on slanted versions from the left or the right.

If you’d like a copy of the first installment, go here and purchase the print or ebook. And audio recording of the booklet is also available, read by yours truly. The second and third installment should be out this Fall and the fourth out this early Winter. Please pray that I can continue to find time to make these resources available.