Social Justice & Catholic Social Teaching
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Social Teaching includes a body of papal documents developed in the 19th,
20th and 21st centuries, however, it is much more than
that. The tradition of social justice begins in the Old Testament with, for
example, the story of liberation from slavery in Exodus, the jubilee laws in
Leviticus to prevent the exploitation of workers and the abuse of creation. The
prophets such as Isaiah who spoke against the oppression of the weak; Amos who
denounced the hypocrisy of the powerful and Micah who denounced the corruption
of the religious and political leaders.
Jesus proclaimed the fulfilment of
the kingdom of God in himself, that is, God reigning or governing in every part
of our lives and our world. In the gospel of Luke Jesus proclaimed his mission by
drawing upon the prophetic tradition of justice in the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for the Lord has anointed me.
the Lord has sent me to
bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s
baptism, we participate in Jesus’ mission of preaching, serving and witnessing
to the reign of God. Mission carried out in the light of the reign of God proclaimed by Jesus, is always about the transformation so evident in Jesus’
parables about God’s extravagant love, mercy and forgiveness.
has been Social Justice from very beginning of Church. The more
recent development of papal social encyclicals continues an ancient tradition
of social justice.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
Social Teaching (CST) promotes a vision of a just society that is grounded in
the Scriptural revelation of a merciful and loving God. It draws upon the
collective wisdom gathered by the Christian community as it has responded to
the signs of the times throughout its history.
also a living tradition of spirituality and ethics that continues to evolve
through dialogue with human experience and reflection for pastoral action.
brings the light of the Gospel to bear on the social dimensions of life.
includes a formal body of papal teaching developed in the 19th, 20th
and 21st centuries, sometimes written in times of social crisis or
at great turning points in history.
PRINCIPLES OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
Creator can say to each of us: “ Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jer 1:5). We were conceived in the heart
of God….’ Laudato Si 65
person is made in the image of God and has an inalienable dignity that gives
rise to human rights. All people, all races and all human cultures are equal in
follows that Christian conversion demands reviewing especially those area and
aspects of life “related to the social order and pursuit of the common good.” Evangelii Gaudium 182
all responsible for the rights, aspirations and well-being of each other. We
are called to work for social conditions that enable every person and every
group to meet their needs and realise their full potential.
Solidarity in its deepest and most challenging sense, thus becomes a way of
making history in a life setting where conflicts, tensions and oppositions can
achieve a diversified and life-giving unity.’ Evangelii Gaudium 228
social beings in our very nature; we reflect the relationships within the life
of our Trinitarian God. We grow, flourish and reach our potential in
relationship with each other.
is always combined with subsidiarity which is its completion, so that everyone
is allowed to offer their contribution to the common good.’ Pope Francis
Audience with Workers September 2018
for decision-making should be kept as close as possible to the people or groups
who will be most directly affected by the decision or policy.
Vatican II, the Cardijin methodology of See,
Judge, Act was commonly followed for
planning for social justice action. During the 1980s, Peter Henriot SJ from the
Jesuit Centre for Concern, developed a process
known as the Pastoral Circle.
steps in the process are usually:
What is happening? Who is affected? How
are they affected?
What are the causes? What are the
consequences? Who is involved?
Reflection: What do the Scriptures say
about this? How do the key principles of CST inform the situation? Where is God
Prayerful sifting through all of the
above to plan a response.
Planning for putting the response into
action and evaluation of effectiveness.