Signs of the Times: A Catholic Social Tradition Blog

"The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics," Gaudium et Spes: a Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 1965. In the following blog, center faculty, staff, and partners scrutinize the "signs of the times" in the light of the Gospel and Catholic social tradition.

Jimena Holguin, International Summer Service Learning Program Latin America Assistant Director, March 6, 2018.

In October 2016, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, held a plebiscite to ratify the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end more than five decades of war. The question of the plebiscite was: “Do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?” 50.2% of the voters voted no, and 49.8% voted in favor. The results reflected the deep polarization that the conflict left behind among Colombians, and showed us a challenging path towards reconciliation.

Ben Wilson, Summer Service Learning Program Director, Center for Social Concerns, February 14, 2018.

Peacebuilding might seem at first blush to belong to the rarified domain of diplomats, security councils, and top military brass -- in short, people far removed and far different from many of us. And yet, during Pope Francis’s January visit to Chile, he placed the mantle of responsibility for peacemaking squarely on the shoulders of anyone capable of doing anything at all: “Do you want peace? Then work for peace. A peacemaker knows that it is not enough simply to say: ‘I am not hurting anybody.’ As St. Alberto Hurtado used to say, ‘It is very good not to do wrong, but very bad not to do good.’" 

Margie Pfeil, Department of Theology and the Center for Social Concerns, January 10, 2018.

On Nov. 8-10, 2017, I had the great privilege of attending a conference hosted at the Vatican on the topic of nuclear disarmament, thanks to the generous support of the Theology Department and at the invitation of Jerry Powers of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where I am a Fellow. This gathering of scholars, activists, Nobel laureates, and ecclesial leaders was marked by many insightful contributions, not least from Pope Francis, who issued a statement condemning not only the use but also the possession of nuclear weapons.


Kevin Kho, graduate student, Department of Theology, December 12, 2017.

On November 10–11, 2017, the Holy See hosted a conference entitled “Perspectives for a World Free From Nuclear Weapons and For Integral Disarmament.” Attended by eleven Noble Peace Laureates, experts in the field of nuclear weapons, church officials, diplomats, international organizations, and students, this was the first international gathering on nuclear disarmament since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed by 122 countries. This treaty prohibits the countries who signed from producing or possessing nuclear weapons. The conference was a venue for experts to discuss a way forward from the treaty which was not agreed to by NATO and countries that continue to hold and produce nuclear weapons.

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