In a very clear and easy to read style, Thomas Massaro gives a summary and explanation of the major principles of Catholic social teaching. This would make an excellent text in an introduction to Catholic social ethics course, or in a parish study group. One of the strengths of the book is his use of examples to illustrate how the various principles can help people think through what is the just response, both personally and in terms of the larger society, to a variety of social issues.
In the preface, Thomas Massaro says that this book is intended to fill a gap. As a seminary professor, he could find no single book that provides an adequate overview of the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on how its members should interact with the larger secular society around them. This is what he means by the Church's "social teaching."
Sheed & Ward's "Come & See" series is aimed at general readers who want succinct, plain-English synopses of Catholic doctrine. They tapped Massaro not only as a subject matter expert, but as a top-notch homilist and writer who can reach a general audience with clarity, humor and insight. We now have the handy summary that he was looking for all these years.
The book explores the underpinnings of Catholic social thought (the influence of scripture, tradition, reason and experience), its evolution over the centuries (he places particular emphasis on papal encyclicals and other key documents since the late 19th century) and the major issues being grappled with today. He does a particularly fine job in discussing one age-old question: whether believers should withdraw from the larger society to escape its corrupting influences (as some groups such as the Amish do), or whether they should be engaged with it, attempting to reform it (but with the added issue of how they should compromise with people who have differing sets of beliefs). Throughout, he does a masterful job of pointing out ambiguities and contrasting viewpoints.
For the sake of full disclosure (the only ethical course), I must inform you that the author had asked me to review his first draft. So, I may be a bit prejudiced in my opinion. Nonetheless, trust me when I say that the pages issued forth from his keyboard pretty much as a finished product. He writes that well.