Theology paper


Guidelines for 8-page paper assignment

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Most of your paper should be a research work, this means that I look for quoted sources that take various positions or provide different insights/dimensions to your topic. Most social justice issues like refugees or immigration are multifaceted as social, economic, legal, political, etc. Your focus should be on the theological analysis of whatever issue you choose. Theologians are your primary source, and good ones include those other facets. Use books, articles and trustworthy websites (affiliated with University Centers, Institutions, such as an Episcopal Conference, or Catholic organizations such as those listed below).

  • If you use only the sources you were assigned to read that would be C work.
  • You should include at least 4 original sources; this means the actual writings of the person or theologian you are writing about. In the case of issues, the Episcopal Conferences of a particular country living with the issue would be an example of an original theological source. 
  • Secondary sources are also appropriate, such as biographies, or studies on a theologian or issue. 
  • The historical context is relevant to the issue as is the particular contribution and influence of the person, theologian you are studying to responding to that issue as it applies to the Gospel.

Avoid long strings of quotations and try to show you understand and integrate these ideas.

  • As much as possible, rather than citing whole paragraphs, explain what the author says and then use short phrases from the author that express the idea well. For example: The author describes this mysterious advancement in holiness as “a certain I don’t know what”, which is hard to express and the memory of which lasts a lifetime.

Begin working with an outline to avoid a paper that rambles in circles

  • a good place to begin any subject is a theological dictionary or the Catholic Encyclopedia to see all the elements entailed in your subject. These also usually provide sources for further study.
  • Another source for additional reading is the bibliography of your class text.
  • Limit your scope accordingly. Don’t try to cover everything. I want a succinct work. This means repetition should be avoided, except for your conclusion where you will bring everything together.
  • Best to run your idea by me so I can direct you to good sources. (remember how St. Thomas begins his de Ente et Essentia, “a small error in the beginning leads to great errors in the end”)


  • Subdivide your paper into subtitles that succinctly treat some aspect of your topic
  • After writing each section (and even each paragraph) consider the point you have made and its place in the outline
  • Every paper should have a title page with your name, date, course
  • Use MLA citations (author, year, pages) for both quotations and for summaries of your reading. Include a works cited page at the end.
  • You may go up to one page beyond the assigned 8-page amount without being penalized. Turning in anything short of the assigned amount will be deducted as a percentage of what is lacking
  • Use 1.5 spacing and 12pt font size with 1.25inch margins.

If you desire your paper returned to you please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

  • This applies only for papers turned in at or near the end of the semester

Universitiy Centers, and Institutes on CST and other resources 


Jesuit European Social Center

International family of CST organizations 

European Catholic Bishops Conference

SEDOS documentation center on mission

Word People’s Congress on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth

Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion and World Affairs

UK Center for CST and Practice

US Bishops resources USCCB

Vatican Dicastery for Human Development

Villanova Center for CST

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Loyola University New Orleans Social Research Institute

Economy for the Common Good

World Bank Topics

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