Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Carey, Patrick W.

Second Advisor

Dempsey, Deirdre A.


The Vatican Council II constitution, Gaudium et Spes, has been widely regarded as a significant contribution to Catholic Social Teaching. This paper examines the process of formation and redaction that Gaudium et Spes underwent and provides a synopsis of the document, focusing especially on articles 67-72 which pertain to economic principles. A review of significant commentaries on these economic principles follows, as well as an examination of the emphases of Pope Paul VI in Populorum Progressio. American commentaries pertaining to the economic teaching of Gaudium et Spes are then addressed, including Economic Justice for All which was released from the United States bishops, and a sample of thought from Cardinal Avery Dulles and J. Brian Benestad, a modern American theologian. My examination of the response to Gaudium et Spes manifests that the constitution was well-received and that commentaries and subsequent economic writings were affirming of its teachings as they were applied to specific situations in the United States and in the world. The most significant critique comes from J. Brian Benestad and Cardinal Avery Dulles, who warned of severing social justice from the fullness of the Gospel and the life of the Church. Tithing is also briefly addressed as a missing point of emphasis that would have strengthened the response to the economic teachings of Gaudium et Spes.

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