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CST5 Environment, Peace, Ecclesial Action and Love

SAFEGUARDING THE ENVIRONMENT

BIBLICAL ASPECTS

"The faith of Israel is lived out in the space and time of this world, perceived not as a hostile environment, nor as an evil from which one must be freed, but rather as the gift itself of God, as the place and plan that he entrusts to the responsible management and activity of man." (CSDC 451) "The definitive salvation that God offers to all humanity through his own Son does not come about outside of this world. While wounded by sin, the world is destined to undergo a radical purification (cf. 2 Pet 3:10) that will make it a renewed world (cf. Is 65:17, 66:22; Rev 21:1), finally becoming the place where “righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). In his public ministry, Jesus makes use of natural elements. Far from being enslaved by things, the disciple of Jesus must know how to use them in order to bring about sharing and brotherhood (cf. Lk 16:9-13). " (CSDC 453) "Not only is the inner man made whole once more, but his entire nature as a corporeal being is touched by the redeeming power of Christ. The whole of creation participates in the renewal flowing from the Lord's Paschal Mystery, although it still awaits full liberation from corruption, groaning in travail (cf. Rom 8:19-23), in expectation of giving birth to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1) that are the gift of the end of time, the fulfilment of salvation. " (CSDC 455)

MAN AND THE UNIVERSE OF CREATED THINGS

"The results of science and technology are, in themselves, positive. " (CSDC 457) "A central point of reference for every scientific and technological application is respect for men and women, which must also be accompanied by a necessary attitude of respect for other living creatures." (CSDC 459) "Man, then, must never forget that “his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work ... is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are”.[965] He must not “make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray”.[966] When he acts in this way, “instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him”.[967]" (CSDC 460)

THE CRISIS IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND THE ENVIRONMENT

A lack of morality is the cause of the environmental crisis

"The biblical message and the Church's Magisterium represent the essential reference points for evaluating the problems found in the relationship between man and the environment.[969] The underlying cause of these problems can be seen in man's pretension of exercising unconditional dominion over things, heedless of any moral considerations which, on the contrary, must distinguish all human activity. " (CSDC 461)

A purely scientific view of reality leads to consumerism and human alienation

"This reductionistic conception views the natural world in mechanistic terms and sees development in terms of consumerism. Primacy is given to doing and having rather than to being, and this causes serious forms of human alienation.[972] Such attitudes do not arise from scientific and technological research but from scientism and technocratic ideologies that tend to condition such research. The advances of science and technology do not eliminate the need for transcendence and are not of themselves the cause of the exasperated secularization that leads to nihilism. " (CSDC 462)

Nature should not be divinized

"A correct understanding of the environment prevents the utilitarian reduction of nature to a mere object to be manipulated and exploited. At the same time, it must not absolutize nature and place it above the dignity of the human person himself. In this latter case, one can go so far as to divinize nature or the earth, as can readily be seen in certain ecological movements that seek to gain an internationally guaranteed institutional status for their beliefs.[973]

Humanity should not be reduced from its divine image and dignity

The Magisterium finds the motivation for its opposition to a concept of the environment based on ecocentrism and on biocentrism in the fact that “it is being proposed that the ontological and axiological difference between men and other living beings be eliminated, since the biosphere is considered a biotic unity of undifferentiated value. Thus man's superior responsibility can be eliminated in favour of an egalitarian consideration of the ‘dignity' of all living beings”.[974]" (CSDC 463)

A COMMON RESPONSIBILITY

"The Magisterium underscores human responsibility for the preservation of a sound and healthy environment for all.[977]" (CSDC 465)

The environment, a collective good

"Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good,[979] destined for all, by preventing anyone from using “with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate — animals, plants, the natural elements — simply as one wishes, according to one's own economic needs”.[980" (CSDC 466)

Laws, attitudes and lifestyles must change

"Responsibility for the environment should also find adequate expression on a juridical level. But juridical measures by themselves are not sufficient.[988] They must be accompanied by a growing sense of responsibility as well as an effective change of mentality and lifestyle." (CSDC 468)

Indigenous peoples

"The relationship of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources deserves particular attention, since it is a fundamental expression of their identity.[996] Due to powerful agro-industrial interests or the powerful processes of assimilation and urbanization, many of these peoples have already lost or risk losing the lands on which they live,[997] lands tied to the very meaning of their existence.[998] The rights of indigenous peoples must be appropriately protected.[999] These peoples offer an example of a life lived in harmony with the environment that they have come to know well  and to preserve.[1000] Their extraordinary experience, which is an irreplaceable resource for all humanity, runs the risk of being lost together with the environment from which they originate. " (CSDC 471)

The use of biotechnology

Care should be taken in evaluating biotechnologies.

"Modern biotechnologies have powerful social, economic and political impact locally, nationally and internationally. They need to be evaluated according to the ethical criteria that must always guide human activities and relations in the social, economic and political spheres.[1003] Above all the criteria of justice and solidarity must be taken into account." (CSDC 474)

No only should the products be shared, but the future development of these technologies should be shared with developing countries.

"In a spirit of international solidarity, various measures can be taken in relation to the use of new biotechnologies. In the first place, equitable commercial exchange, without the burden of unjust stipulations, is to be facilitated. Promoting the development of the most disadvantaged peoples, however, will not be authentic or effective if it is reduced to the simple exchange of products. It is indispensable to foster the development of a necessary scientific and technological autonomy on the part of these same peoples, promoting the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge and the transfer of technologies to developing countries." (CSDC 475) "Entrepreneurs and directors of public agencies involved in the research, production and selling of products derived from new biotechnologies must take into account not only legitimate profit but also the common good." (CSDC 478)

Correct information about biotechnologies should be properly given.

"Leaders in the information sector also have an important task, which must be undertaken with prudence and objectivity." (CSDC 480)

The environment and the sharing of goods

Poorer countries should be supported in such a way that allows them to the ability to care for their environment.

“It is moreover necessary to keep in mind the situation of those countries that are penalized by unfair international trade regulations and countries with a scarcity of capital goods, often aggravated by the burden of the foreign debt. In such cases hunger and poverty make it virtually impossible to avoid an intense and excessive exploitation of the environment." (CSDC 482)

"The close link that exists between the development of the poorest countries, demographic changes and a sustainable use of the environment must not become a pretext for political and economic choices that are at variance with the dignity of the human person." (CSDC 483) In other words a pretext for abortion or euthanasia.

"By its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. " (CSDC 485)

New lifestyles

This is one of the great solutions of Catholic Social Teaching. What shape or form do you think these new lifestyles would take?

"Serious ecological problems call for an effective change of mentality leading to the adoption of new lifestyles,[1012] “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of the common good are the factors that determine consumer choices, savings and investments”.[1013] These lifestyles should be inspired by sobriety, temperance, and self-discipline at both the individual and social levels. There is a need to break with the logic of mere consumption and promote forms of agricultural and industrial production that respect the order of creation and satisfy the basic human needs of all. These attitudes, sustained by a renewed awareness of the interdependence of all the inhabitants of the earth, will contribute to eliminating the numerous causes of ecological disasters as well as guaranteeing the ability to respond quickly when such disasters strike peoples and territories.[1014] The ecological question must not be faced solely because of the frightening prospects that environmental destruction represents; rather it must above all become a strong motivation for an authentic solidarity of worldwide dimensions." (CSDC 486) "The attitude that must characterize the way man acts in relation to creation is essentially one of gratitude and appreciation; the world, in fact, reveals the mystery of God who created and sustains it. If the relationship with God is placed aside, nature is stripped of its profound meaning and impoverished. If on the other hand, nature is rediscovered in its creaturely dimension, channels of communication with it can be established, its rich and symbolic meaning can be understood, allowing us to enter into its realm of mystery. This realm opens the path of man to God, Creator of heaven and earth. The world presents itself before man's eyes as evidence of God, the place where his creative, providential and redemptive power unfolds." (CSDC 487)

THE PROMOTION OF PEACE

Peace is a gift that comes from reconciliation.

"Before being God's gift to man and a human project in conformity with the divine plan, peace is in the first place a basic attribute of God: “the Lord is peace” (Jdg 6:24)." (CSDC 488) "In biblical revelation, peace is much more than the simple absence of war; it represents the fullness of life (cf. Mal 2:5). Far from being the work of human hands, it is one of the greatest gifts that God offers to all men and women, and it involves obedience to the divine plan. Peace is the effect of the blessing that God bestows upon his people: “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:26). This peace produces fruitfulness (Is 48:19), well-being (cf. Is 48:18), prosperity (cf. Is 54:13), absence of fear (cf. Lev 26:6) and profound joy (cf. Pr 12:20)." (CSDC 489)"Peace is the goal of life in society, as is made extraordinarily clear in the messianic vision of peace: when all peoples will go up to the Lord's house, and he will teach them his ways and they will walk along the ways of peace (cf. Is 2:2-5). " (CSDC 490) "The peace of Christ is in the first place reconciliation with the Father, which is brought about by the ministry Jesus entrusted to his disciples and which begins with the proclamation of peace: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!”' (Lk 10:5; cf. Rom 1:7). Peace is then reconciliation with one's brothers and sisters, for in the prayer that Jesus taught us, the “Our Father”, the forgiveness that we ask of God is linked to the forgiveness that we grant to our brothers and sisters: “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12). With this twofold reconciliation Christians can become peacemakers and therefore participate in the Kingdom of God, in accordance with what Jesus himself proclaims in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt 5:9). " (CSDC 492) "Working for peace can never be separated from announcing the Gospel, which is in fact thegood news of peace” (Acts 10:36; cf. Eph 6:15) addressed to all men and women. " (CSDC 493)

PEACE: FRUIT OF LOVE (MERCY) MORE THAN JUSTICE

"Peace is a value [1015] and a universal duty [1016] founded on a rational and moral order of society that has its roots in God himself, “the first source of being, the essential truth and the supreme good”.[1017] Peace is not merely the absence of war, nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies.[1018] Rather it is founded on a correct understanding of the human person [1019] and requires the establishment of an order based on justice and charity. Peace is the fruit of justice,[1020] understood in the broad sense as the respect for the equilibrium of every dimension of the human person. Peace is also the fruit of love. “True and lasting peace is more a matter of love than of justice, because the function of justice is merely to do away with obstacles to peace: the injury done or the damage caused. Peace itself, however, is an act and results only from love”.[1022]" (CSDC 494) "Violence is never a proper response. The contemporary world too needs the witness of unarmed prophets, who are often the objects of ridicule.[1030] " (CSDC 496)

THE FAILURE OF PEACE: WAR

"The Magisterium condemns “the savagery of war” [1032] and asks that war be considered in a new way.[1033] In fact, “it is hardly possible to imagine that in an atomic era, war could be used as an instrument of justice”.[1034] …“never again some peoples against others, never again! ... no more war, no more war!” [1044]" (CSDC 497) "Seeking alternative solutions to war for resolving international conflicts has taken on tremendous urgency today. It is therefore essential to seek out the causes underlying bellicose conflicts, especially those connected with structural situations of injustice, poverty and exploitation, which require intervention so that they may be removed. “For this reason, another name for peace is development. Just as there is a collective responsibility for avoiding war, so too there is a collective responsibility for promoting development”.[1046]" (CSDC 498) "States do not always possess adequate means to provide effectively for their own defence, from this derives the need and importance of international and regional organizations, which should be in a position to work together to resolve conflicts and promote peace, re-establishing relationships of mutual trust that make recourse to war unthinkable.[1047] " (CSDC 499)

Legitimate defence

"A war of aggression is intrinsically immoral. In the tragic case where such a war breaks out, leaders of the State that has been attacked have the right and the duty to organize a defence even using the force of arms.[1049] If this responsibility justifies the possession of sufficient means to exercise this right to defence, States still have the obligation to do everything possible “to ensure that the conditions of peace exist, not only within their own territory but throughout the world”.[1051] " (CSDC 500) "The Charter of the United Nations, born from the tragedy of the Second World War with the intention of preserving future generations from the scourge of war, is based on a generalized prohibition of a recourse to force to resolve disputes between States, with the exception of two cases: legitimate defence and measures taken by the Security Council within the area of its responsibilities for maintaining peace. In every case, exercising the right to self-defence must respect “the traditional limits of necessity and proportionality”.[1053] Therefore, engaging in a preventive war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions. " (CSDC 501)

This last sentence clearly is against Bush going into Iraq.

Defending peace

"The requirements of legitimate defence justify the existence in States of armed forces, the activity of which should be at the service of peace. Those who defend the security and freedom of a country, in such a spirit, make an authentic contribution to peace.[1054] " (CSDC 502)

Every soldier is responsible for their actions.

"Every member of the armed forces is morally obliged to resist orders that call for perpetrating crimes against the law of nations and the universal principles of this law." (CSDC 503)

The duty to protect the innocent

"The right to use force for purposes of legitimate defence is associated with   who are not able to defend themselves from acts of aggression." (CSDC 504) "The principle of humanity inscribed in the conscience of every person and all peoples includes the obligation to protect civil populations from the effects of war." (CSDC 505) "Attempts to eliminate entire national, ethnic, religious or linguistic groups are crimes against God and humanity itself, and those responsible for such crimes must answer for them before justice.[1061] The international community as a whole has the moral obligation to intervene on behalf of those groups whose very survival is threatened or whose basic human rights are seriously violated. There is also present within the international community an International Criminal Court to punish those responsible for particularly serious acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The Magisterium has not failed to encourage this initiative time and again.[1065]" (CSDC 506)

Measures against those who threaten peace

Criteria for sanctions.

"Sanctions, in the forms prescribed by the contemporary international order, seek to correct the behaviour of the government of a country that violates the rules of peaceful and ordered international coexistence or that practises serious forms of oppression with regard to its population. The true objective of such measures is open to the way to negotiation and dialogue. Sanctions must never be used as a means for the direct punishment of an entire population: Economic sanctions in particular are an instrument to be used with great discernment and must be subjected to strict legal and ethical criteria.[1066] An economic embargo must be of limited duration and cannot be justified when the resulting effects are indiscriminate." (CSDC 507)

The Catholic Church is for Disarmament

 "The Church's social teaching proposes the goal of “general, balanced and controlled disarmament”.[1067] " (CSDC 508) "Arms of mass destruction — whether biological, chemical or nuclear — represent a particularly serious threat. Those who possess them have an enormous responsibility before God and all of humanity.[1071] The ban on the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical and biological weapons as well as the provisions that require their destruction, complete the international regulatory norms aimed at banning such baleful weapons,[1073] the use of which is explicitly condemned by the Magisterium.” (CSDC 509)

Hiroshima is condemned

“Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation”.[1074]" (CSDC 509)

No landmines

"Disarmament must include the banning of weapons that inflict excessively traumatic injury or that strike indiscriminately. This includes anti- personnel landmines, a type of small arm that is inhumanly insidious because it continues to cause harm even long after the cessation of hostilities." (CSDC 510)

Curb the arms trade

"Appropriate measures are needed to control the production, sale, importation and exportation of small arms and light weapons, armaments that facilitate many outbreaks of violence to occur." (CSDC 511)

Don’t use children as soldiers

"The use of children and adolescents as soldiers in armed conflicts — despite the fact that their young age should bar them from being recruited —must be condemned. " (CSDC 512)

The condemnation of terrorism

 "Terrorism is one of the most brutal forms of violence traumatizing the international community today; it sows hatred, death, and an urge for revenge and reprisal.[1078] " (CSDC 513) "Terrorism is to be condemned in the most absolute terms. It shows complete contempt for human life and can never be justified, since the human person is always an end and never a mean.s " (CSDC 514) "It is a profanation and a blasphemy to declare oneself a terrorist in God's name. No religion may tolerate terrorism and much less preach it.[1087] " (CSDC 515)

THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE CHURCH TO PEACE

"The promotion of peace in the world is an integral part of the Church's mission of continuing Christ's work of redemption on earth. " (CSDC 516) "The Church teaches that true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation.[1092] It is not easy to forgive when faced with the consequences of war and conflict because violence, especially when it leads “to the very depths of inhumanity and suffering”,[1093] leaves behind a heavy burden of pain. This pain can only be eased by a deep, faithful and courageous reflection on the part of all parties, a reflection capable of facing present difficulties with an attitude that has been purified by repentance. The weight of the past, which cannot be forgotten, can be accepted only when mutual forgiveness is offered and received; this is a long and difficult process, but one that is not impossible[1094]. " (CSDC 517) "Mutual forgiveness must not eliminate the need for justice and still less does it block the path that leads to truth. On the contrary, justice and truth represent the concrete requisites for reconciliation." (CSDC 518) "It is through prayer that the Church engages in the battle for peace. " (CSDC 519)

TRANSFORMATION

ORIGINAL SIN: EVERY SIN IS THE RESULT OF A PERSONAL CHOICE TO SIN, INCLUDING SOCIAL SIN.

 “It is not legitimate to understand social sin as a weakening or the virtual cancellation of personal sin by admitting only social guilt and responsibility. At the bottom of every situation of sin there is always the individual who sins. (cf CSDC 117)

CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR

Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ's act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom 5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”” ( CSDC 121)

LIVE AS JESUS LIVED AND BE TRANSFORMED

 “Christ's disciple adheres, in faith and through the sacraments, to Jesus' Paschal Mystery, so that his old self, with its evil inclinations, is crucified with Christ. As a new creation he is then enabled by grace to “walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).” (CSDC 41) This divine dynamic of inner transformation is at work in every human life. “This “holds true not for Christians alone but also for all people of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the Paschal Mystery”[42].” (CSDC 41)

THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF INNER TRANSFORMATION

"The Fathers of the Church insist more on the need for the conversion and transformation of the consciences of believers than on the need to change the social and political structures of their day." (CSDC 328)

“Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.” (CCC 1810)
There is a saying that puts this very simply.
“Sow an act, reap a habit,
sow a habit, reap a character,
sow a character reap a destiny.”
Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin.38 How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?” (CCC 2744) “In the exercise of their freedom, men and women perform morally good acts that are constructive for the person and for society when they are obedient to truth” (CSDC 138)

FIRST BE TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST, THEN TRANSFORM OTHERS

“the first thing to be done is to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the individual and to the permanent need for inner conversion, if one is to achieve the economic and social changes that will truly be at the service of man”[260].” (CSDC 137) " Jesus teaches us that “the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love” (cf. Mt 22:40, Jn 15:12; Col 3:14; Jas 2:8)[1219]. " (CSDC 580) "Only love can completely transform the human person[1229]. “The inner transformation of the human person, in his being progressively conformed to Christ, is the necessary prerequisite for a real transformation of his relationships with others”. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it”[43].” (CSDC 42)

THE CHURCH, THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY

Through union with Christ, we are part of His body, the Church. Christ continues his work on Earth through the Church. (cf CSDC 49) The Church“serves the Kingdom by spreading throughout the world the ‘Gospel values' which are an expression of the Kingdom and which help people to accept God's plan. …It follows from this, in particular, that the Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system[58]. In fact, the political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields, and both are, even if under different titles, “devoted to the service of the personal and social vocation of the same human beings“ (CSDC 50)

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

The Church establishes new Christian communities (cf CSDC 50). “God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men. … Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord (cf. Mt 18:20, 28:19-20; Lk 24:46-49), offer themselves as places of communion, witness and mission, and as catalysts for the redemption and transformation of social relationships.” (CSDC 52) “The transformation of social relationships … is a task entrusted to the Christian community” (CSDC 53) Mutual love between persons is the most powerful means of transformation (cf CSDC 55) “Mary is “the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe”[72]. “ (CSDC 59)

SOCIAL DOCTRINE AND ECCLESIAL ACTION

PASTORAL ACTION IN THE SOCIAL FIELD

"The Church's social doctrine is an indispensable reference point for a totally integrated Christian formation. " (CSDC 528) The first level of the formation of lay Christians should be to help them to become capable of meeting their daily activities effectively in the cultural, social, economic and political spheres and to develop in them a sense of duty that is at the service of the common good[1130]. A second level concerns the formation of a political conscience in order to prepare lay Christians to exercise political power. “Those with a talent for the difficult yet noble art of politics, or whose talents in this matter can be developed, should prepare themselves for it, and forgetting their own convenience and material interests, they should engage in political activity”[1131]." (CSDC 531)

Promoting dialogue

 "The Church's social doctrine is a privileged instrument of dialogue between Christian communities and the civil and political community. " (CSDC 534)

SOCIAL DOCTRINE AND THE COMMITMENT OF THE LAY FAITHFUL

The lay faithful

"The essential characteristic of the lay faithful who work in the Lord's vineyard (cf. Mt 20:1-16) is the secular nature of their Christian discipleship, which is carried out precisely in the world. “It belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will”[1139]. " (CSDC 541)

Spirituality of the lay faithful

"The lay faithful must strengthen their spiritual and moral lives, becoming ever more competent in carrying out their social duties. Bringing faith and life together requires following the path judiciously indicated by the characteristic elements of Christian living: the Word of God as a reference point; the liturgical celebration of the Christian Mystery; personal prayer; the authentic experience of Church enhanced by the particular formational services of discerning spiritual guides; the exercise of the social virtues and a persevering commitment to cultural and professional formation." (CSDC 546)

See Judge Act

"The lay faithful should act according to the dictates of prudence, the virtue that makes it possible to discern the true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means for achieving it. Thanks to this virtue, moral principles are applied correctly to particular cases. We can identify three distinct moments as prudence is exercised to clarify and evaluate situations, to inspire decisions and to prompt action. The first moment is seen in the reflection and consultation by which the question is studied and the necessary opinions sought. The second moment is that of evaluation, as the reality is analyzed and judged in the light of God's plan. The third  moment, that of decision, is based on the preceding steps and makes it possible to choose between the different actions that may be taken. " (CSDC 547)

Social doctrine and lay associations

"The Church's social doctrine must become an integral part of the ongoing formation of the lay faithful. Experience shows that this formative work is usually possible within lay ecclesial associations that respond to precise “criteria of ecclesiality”.[1148] " (CSDC 549)

Service to the human person
First renew oneself interiorly

"Among the areas of the social commitment of the laity, service to the human person emerges as a priorityThe first form in which this task is undertaken consists in the commitment and efforts to renew oneself interiorly, because human history is not governed by an impersonal determinism but by a plurality of subjects whose free acts shape the social order. Social institutions do not of themselves guarantee, as if automatically, the common good; the internal “renewal of the Christian spirit” [1156] must precede the commitment to improve society “according to the mind of the Church on the firmly established basis of social justice and social charity”[1157].” (CSDC 552)

Work for the conversion of hearts and the improvement of structures

“It is from the conversion of hearts that there arises concern for others, loved as brothers or sisters. This concern helps us to understand the obligation and commitment to heal institutions, structures and conditions of life that are contrary to human dignity. The laity must therefore work at the same time for the conversion of hearts and the improvement of structures, taking historical situations into account and using legitimate means so that the dignity of every man and woman will be truly respected and promoted within institutions." (CSDC 552) "Fostering a social and political culture inspired by the Gospel must be an area of particular importance for the lay faithful. " (CSDC 555)

Renew the media

"In the promotion of an authentic culture, the laity will place great importance on mass media, examining above all the contents of the countless choices that people make. " (CSDC 560) "The lay faithful will look upon the media as possible and powerful instruments of solidarity: Communication structures and policies, and the distribution of technology are factors that help to make some people “information rich” and others “information poor” at a time when prosperity, and even survival, depend on information. In this way, the media often contribute to the injustices and imbalances that give rise to the very suffering that they report." (CSDC 561) "Professionals in the field of media are not the only people with ethical duties. Those who make use of the media also have obligations. Media operators who try to meet their responsibilities deserve audiences who are aware of their own responsibilities. " (CSDC 562)

Political involvement

"For the lay faithful, political involvement is a worthy and demanding expression of the Christian commitment of service to others[1183]. " (CSDC 565) "A particular area for discernment on the part of the lay faithful concerns the choice of political instruments, that is, membership in a party or in other types of political participation. A choice must be made that is consistent with values, taking into account actual circumstances. It is difficult for the concerns of the Christian faith to be adequately met in one sole political entity; to claim that one party or political coalition responds completely to the demands of faith or of Christian life would give rise to dangerous errors. Christians cannot find one party that fully corresponds to the ethical demands arising from faith and from membership in the Church. Their adherence to a political alliance will never be ideological but always critical; in this way the party and its political platform will be prompted to be ever more conscientious in attaining the true common good, including the spiritual end of the human person[1201]." (CSDC 573) "The distinction that must be made on the one hand between the demands of faith and socio-political options, and on the other hand between the choices made by individual Christians and the Christian community as such, means that membership in a party or in a political alliance should be considered a personal decision, legitimate at least within the limits of those parties and positions that are not incompatible with Christian faith and values[1202]. However, the choice of a party, a political alliance, the persons to whom public life is to be entrusted, while involving the conscience of each person, can never be an exclusively individual choice. “It is up to the Christian community to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel's inalterable words and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the Church”[1203]. In any case, “no one is permitted to identify the authority of the Church exclusively with his own opinion”[1204]; believers should rather “try to guide each other by sincere dialogue in a spirit of mutual charity and with anxious interest above all in the common good”[1205]." (CSDC 574)

Freedom of religion

"The principle of autonomy involves respect for every religious confession on the part of the State, which “assures the free exercise of ritual, spiritual, cultural and charitable activities by communities of believers. In a pluralistic society, secularity is a place for communication between the different spiritual traditions and the nation”.[1198] Unfortunately, even in democratic societies, there still remain expressions of secular intolerance that are hostile to granting any kind of political or cultural relevance to religious faiths. Such intolerance seeks to exclude the activity of Christians from the social and political spheres because Christians strive to uphold the truths taught by the Church and are obedient to the moral duty to act in accordance with their conscience. These attitudes even go so far, and radically so, as to deny the basis of a natural morality. This denial, which is the harbinger of a moral anarchy with the obvious consequence of the stronger prevailing over the weaker, cannot be accepted in any form by legitimate pluralism, since it undermines the very foundations of human society. In the light of this state of affairs, “the marginalization of Christianity ... would not bode well for the future of society or for consensus among peoples; indeed, it would threaten the very spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization”[1199]." (CSDC 572)

Starting afresh from faith in Christ
The need for a radical personal and social renewal

"Faith in God and in Jesus Christ sheds light on the moral principles that are “the sole and irreplaceable foundation of that stability and tranquillity, of that internal and external order, private and public, that alone can generate and safeguard the prosperity of States”[1210]. Life in society must be based on the divine plan because “the theological dimension is needed both for interpreting and solving present-day problems in human society”[1211]. In the presence of serious forms of exploitation and social injustice, there is “an ever more widespread and acute sense of the need for a radical personal and social renewal capable of ensuring justice, solidarity, honesty and openness.” (CSDC 577)

At the root is anthropology, morality and religiousness

“Certainly, there is a long and difficult road ahead; bringing about such a renewal will require enormous effort, especially on account of the number and gravity of the causes giving rise to and aggravating the situations of injustice present in the world today. But, as history and personal experience show, it is not difficult to discover at the bottom of these situations causes which are properly ‘cultural', linked to particular ways of looking at man, society and the world. Indeed, at the heart of the issue of culture we find the moral sense, which is in turn rooted and fulfilled in the religious sense”[1212].” (CSDC 577)

We shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person

As for “the social question”, we must not be seduced by “the naive expectation that, faced with the great challenges of our time, we shall find some magic formula. No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person and the assurance that he gives us: I am with you! It is not therefore a matter of inventing a ‘new programme'. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem”[1213]." (CSDC 577)

Love must be present

"Love must be present in and permeate every social relationship[1220]. " (CSDC 581) "In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life — political, economic and cultural — must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity. “If justice is in itself suitable for ‘arbitration' between people concerning the reciprocal distribution of objective goods in an equitable manner, love and only love (including that kindly love we call ‘mercy') is capable of restoring man to himself”[1226]. Human relationships cannot be governed solely according to the measure of justice. “Christians know that love is the reason for God's entering into relationship with man. And it is love which he awaits as man's response. Consequently, love is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order. Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilization of love' will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace”[1227]. In this regard, the Magisterium highly recommends solidarity because it is capable of guaranteeing the common good and fostering integral human development: love “makes one see in neighbour another self”[1228]." (CSDC 582)

Only Love can completely transform the human person

"Only love can completely transform the human person[1229]. Such a transformation does not mean eliminating the earthly dimension in a disembodied spirituality[1230]. Those who think they can live the supernatural virtue of love without taking into account its corresponding natural foundations, which include duties of justice, deceive themselves. “Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: ‘Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it' (Lk 17:33)”[1231]. Nor can love find its full expression solely in the earthly dimension of human relationships and social relations, because it is in relation to God that it finds its full effectiveness. “In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself”[1232]." (CSDC 583) 

SUMMARY

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Submitted by rjzaar on May 8, 2017 - 11:05am
Modfied: May 8, 2017 - 11:06am
Topic(s): 
cst
catholic social teaching
level: 
Intermediate

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