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Journal of Moral Theology


In light of the ongoing social challenges facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our time, I want to highlight some underappreciated aspects of Catholic Social Teaching that we would do well to recall. The discussion proceeds in four parts. First, I identify several key contemporary social challenges that continue to face individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Second, I trace the root of those particular challenges to the social forces of industrialization, urbanization, and social Darwinism in the second half of the nineteenth century. Third, on the basis of that historical framework, I argue that the contemporary Catholic response to the various social challenges of disabled persons has much to gain from serious consideration of Catholic Social Thought’s response to the suffering of the working class. Finally, I conclude with a proposal on how this application of the tradition might further be developed and promoted.


This is article is published open access.