Date of Award

Fall 2007

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Second Advisor

Wood, Susan K.

Third Advisor

Carey, Patrick W.


Centesimus Annus pronounces on a range of issues in light of the recent collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. As the pope looks to the "new things" influencing the social order, he provides a detailed examination of the strengths and weaknesses of different forms of capitalism and the free market. Themes such as work, profit, freedom, private property, and human creativity receive due attention. Undergirding Centesimus Annus' treatment of particular issues is Pope John Paul's understanding of the human person. As Catholic moral teaching, what foundational principles regarding the human person does Centesimus Annus put forward? Further, what prescriptive guidelines for personal and communal economic action does the encyclical's anthropology suggest? The anthropological claims made by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus drew the attention of early commentators and sparked significant debate among U.S. Catholics. In his 1993 book The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, for instance, Catholic "neo-conservative" commentator Michael Novak argues that Centesimus Annus provides its reader with a "classic restatement of Christian anthropology" that successfully responds to questions raised about both the political economy and free social institutions post-1989. According to Novak, the fundamental insight that the human person is an "acting person" who possesses "creative subjectivity" due to his/her creation in the image of God grounds the pope's theological anthropology. Michael Novak's interpretation of Pope John Paul H's theological anthropology in Centesimus Annus has been challenged by a number of other U.S. Catholic scholars. This dissertation will focus on one aspect of Novak's interpretation and the challenges that follow, namely the issue of human creativity in the context of theological anthropology, giving special attention to the critique of Novak offered by theologian David L. Schindler. Schindler argues that Novak's interpretation of the pope's theological anthropology is misguided and deficient therefore he cannot claim agreement with John Paul II. What appears to be a debate over the value of the market economy in fact hangs on a correct understanding of theological anthropology. Several questions emerge: 1) How does Schindler interpret Pope John Paul II's anthropological claims in Centesimus Annus, and how does this interpretation differ from that of Novak? 2) Why does Schindler claim his interpretation is more faithful to the pope's arguments about human creativity? What is the link, for Schindler, between anthropology and human creativity? 3) How does Schindler argue that the principle of human creativity relate to the creation, use, and possession of material goods?...



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