Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching

A Defense of the Church's True Teachings on Marriage, Family, and the State

Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching book cover
Page curl effect

About this item

Many claim that Catholic Social Teaching
implies the existence of a vast welfare state.

They couldn't be more wrong.

In Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, Anthony Esolen pulls back the curtain on these false philosophers, showing how they've undermined the authentic teachings of the Church in order to neutralize the biggest threat to their plans for secularization — the Catholic Church.

Esolen explains that Catholic Social Teaching isn't focused exclusively on serving the poor. Indeed, it offers us a rich treasure of insights about the nature of man, his eternal destiny, the sanctity of marriage, and the important role of the family in building a coherent and harmonious society.

Catholic Social Teaching offers a unified worldview. What the Church says about the family is inextricable from what she says about the poor: and what she says about the Eucharist informs the essence of her teachings on education, the arts — and even government.

You will step away from these pages with a profound understanding of the root causes of the ills that afflict our society, and — thanks to Anthony Esolen — well equipped to propose compelling remedies for them.

Only an authentically Catholic culture provides for a stable and virtuous society that allows Christians to do the real work that can unite rich and poor.

We must reclaim Catholic Social Teaching if we are to transform our society into the ideal mapped out by the Church: a land of sinners, yes, but one enriched with love of God and neighbor and sustained by the very heart of the Church's social teaching: the most holy Eucharist.

Among the many vital topics covered in this compelling book:


  • Why the survival of civil society demands that we make moral judgments

  • A good and a true society: learn in detail what it would look like

  • Secular humanism: why it’s a contradiction in terms

  • Why a city without God is not a bad city: it’s no city



  • Why Pope Leo denounced the “thirst for novelty,” and the “lost for new things” – and why you must, too

  • Why true piety always gives the benefit of the doubt to what has come from our forefathers

  • Why every government that rejects the natural law will fall

  • Government gridlock: it’s inevitable in a godless society (Pope Leo foretold it over a century ago)

  • Us or them: Why the secular state must crush the Church



  • What even pagans understand about marriage (but America has forgotten)

  • How acceptance of divorce corrodes all other human relations, mortally wounding society itself

  • The inner unity between Catholic teachings about sex and Catholic teachings about society

  • Sexual sin: Pope Leo shows how it leads either to chaos or (yes!) to rule by a totalitarian State



  • Parental rights: how they can neither be abolished nor absorbed by the state

  • The family: it’s not defined by the state (Indeed, the state comes forth from the family and must answer to them)

  • The one thing parents must be sure to teach their children (Are you doing it?)



  • Why government is always less effective than free associations of men and women

  • Hands off! Why rulers have no right to interfere in religious organizations

  • The Boy Scouts: Pope Leo shows why its rules are not the business of government

  • Catholic hospitals: Why secular governments must inevitably come to hate – and attempt to destroy — the church’s charitable work with the poor and downcast. Pope Leo predicted it hundred years ago



  • Religion — and religion alone — can create genuine communities (Can you explain why?)

  • How the church herself is the consummate society

  • Authority: moderns hate it, but it is both necessary and blessed.

  • Democracy: religion can thrive without it, but democracy collapses without religion.



  • The four obligations of every state: how their fulfillment promotes the moral and material prosperity of all its citizens

  • Private ownership: why the state should not only favor but must foster it

  • True culture: how it’s opposed to mass education, mass politics, and mass entertainment

  • Families: they are not measured by the good they bring to the state; the state is measured by the good it brings families

Read less Read more

Editorial Reviews

Fr. George Rutler photo

"The lively mind of Professor Esolen is incapable of cliché, and he is artful in detecting the platitudes which have misled much of our culture's understanding of the social order."

Fr. George Rutler
Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. photo

"Anthony Esolen's brilliant analysis of liberty, marriage, family, and other key issues of Catholic Social Teaching deserves to be a standard text in moral theology and catechesis."

Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P.
Editor-in-chief, Magnificat
Robert Royal photo

"Freshness and insight are always evident in Anthony Esolen's writing. It's nothing less than a minor miracle that he's maintained those rare qualities in this illuminating treatment of one of the most poorly understood subjects: Catholic Social Teaching. This is a splendid — an essential — book."

Robert Royal
Faith and Reason Institute
Fr. C. John McCloskey photo

"An unapologetic defense of marriage and family by America's best Catholic writer."

Fr. C. John McCloskey

Product Details

  • Pages: 208
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-622821-82-2
  • Product Code: 1822
  • Availability: In Stock

Customer Reviews

543212 reviews
This book is an excellent and erudite explication of Catholic social doctrine and ought to be mandatory reading in Catholic institutions of higher learning. I would also commend it to our Catholic political leaders, to aid them in their efforts to discharge their civil duties in keeping with their faith.
Was this review helpful to you?
Not Helpful-0
Pope Leo for Everyone
Anthony Esolen does a better job of explaining the social teaching of Pope Leo than anyone else I've read. Everyone interested in the legitimate meaning/interpretation of Catholic social teaching needs to read this book. What Mortimer Adler did for Aristotle; Esolen does for Leo.
Was this review helpful to you?
Not Helpful-1