THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHINGS...
Do you know the Catholic Social Teaching?
The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliator, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents. In these brief reflections, we highlight several of the key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition. It’s one thing to know the social catholic teaching is another thing to practice them. Many Catholics just hear about the social teaching but have never come in contact to sit down and read them.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion euthanasia, terrorism, migrants drowning in high seas in search for green pasture and better living conditions. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means, which today seems to fall on deaf ears. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. You are dignified if you treat yourself in the way God wants you to live and also respecting others. Where your joys stop is where mine start…
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society in economics and politics, in law and policy directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. We are who we are because of where we come from and what we have been taught and experienced with a great value and with open mind and soul to learn and live. Man is never an island, I am because you are and you are because I am.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities, to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Duties and responsibility do apply as we practice our freedom.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. Option for the poor is not something of others but each person needs to be part of the big family. Its not just enough to say we pray for poor but do something about how to help the poor out of their material poverty to look at the bigger spiritual option of poverty. Its nor enough to hear that when I am involving myself to help the poor, I am a saint then, but when I ask why are they poor, then I am branded a rebel or communist.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. Each person has a right to work and given good environment to work in. Once the conditions are never right or favourable, the workers ought to raise to the occasion to raise the issues with the employer and once that lands on deaf ears, then due course need to be followed, so as the employer listens and comes to the table to discuss, for dialogue is indispensable.
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. At the end of the day one has to take a decision of participating in the common cause with those who are suppressed and in search for human freedom. To be silent in moments of dictatorship and liberation is a clear sign that you are siding with the oppressor.
Care for God’s Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored. (the common house/casa commune)
This summary should only be a starting point for those interested in Catholic social teaching. A full understanding can only be achieved by reading the papal, councilor, and Episcopal documents that make up this rich tradition. Just google any of the topics of interest and in the blink of an eye everything is the reach of your hands and mind.