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DX Catholic Social Teaching

CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING

  1. INTRODUCTION

1.1.   The Church has always addressed social questions, but modern social questions arising from the effects of the industrial revolution were first officially addressed in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) published in 1891. Since then many popes have written social encyclicals. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace synthesised Catholic Social Teaching into one volume Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC) in 2004.

1.2.   The CSDC establishes four principles and four values. "The permanent principles of the Church's social doctrine…are…the dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all the other principles and the common good; subsidiarity; and solidarity." (CSDC 160) The values are truth, justice, freedom and love.

1.3.   These principles and values are then applied to the family, human work, economic life, the political community, the international community, safeguarding the environment and the promotion of peace. It then goes on to explore how to practically live this out.

  1. THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON (RESPECT)

2.1.   When we look in the mirror, we never quite recognise our true value. Sin has alienated us from knowing our true self. On our own, we are incapable of properly having self-knowledge. To understand ourselves, we must first have an understanding of God, our creator, source, sustainer, Lord, friend and goal in life. God is truth, goodness, beauty and love itself. Our intellect seeks truth (see CSDC 198), our will seeks goodness and our heart seeks love. We yearn for infinite truth, goodness and love. Since we yearn for the infinite truth, goodness and love, we all yearn for God. As St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you [God].” Therefore, humanity has a natural desire for God and is religious by nature. Human society should support the religious human dimension.

2.2.   We know what it is like to be used rather than loved. We all want to loved for ourselves and not to be used. Only God can give us this unconditional love since God’s love is infinite. Every person yearns for this kind of love. To respect others is to love them unconditionally and this is the basis of Catholic Social Teaching. Even if “acts of intellect, consciousness and freedom were lacking, the human person would still be a person.” (CSDC 114) Every human person from conception to natural death should be treated with the same care and love.

2.3.   The more we choose the good, the freer we become. Sin leads to slavery. Through Christ we can become truly free. (see CSDC 143) True freedom is not just having choices, but being able to choose the good. A true society is one which encourages good choices (including religion) and discourages wrong choices eg abortion.

2.4.   Every political, economic, social, scientific and cultural programme must be inspired by the awareness of the primacy of each human being over society. The human person should never be treated as an object, but always a subject. “The order of things is to be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around”. … Every political, economic, social, scientific and cultural programme must be inspired by the awareness of the primacy of each human being over society.” (CSDC 132) “The person cannot be a means for carrying out economic, social or political projects…” (CSDC 133), but is always the end of such projects.

2.5.   God is social by nature. God is three persons in one God with a perfect giving love. Therefore we are social by nature and can only come to fulfilment in the gift of self to others. “This [Trinitarian] likeness reveals that man, … cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” (GS 24) Individualism does not lead to fulfilment.

2.6.   God is love and humanity being in God’s image means, "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being" (FC 11). "Love must be present in and permeate every social relationship. 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. … 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." (CSDC 582) "Only love can completely transform the human person." (CSDC 583)

2.7.   “The exercise of freedom implies a reference to a natural moral law, of a universal character, that precedes and unites all rights and duties. This light or this law has been given by God to creation. It consists in the participation in his eternal law, which is identified with God himself. In its principal precepts, the divine and natural law is presented in the Decalogue and indicates the primary and essential norms regulating moral life. Its central focus is the act of aspiring and submitting to God, the source and judge of everything that is good, and also the act of seeing others as equal to oneself. The natural law expresses the dignity of the person and lays the foundations of the person's fundamental duties.” (CSDC 140)

2.8.   Civil laws should be based on the natural law and therefore should enshrine the dignity of the human person. Even if governments were to enact laws against the natural law, members of society know within themselves that those laws are wrong and should be changed. “Moral values, founded on the natural law [are] written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law.” (CSDC 3)

2.9.   “The ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of human beings, in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his Creator.” (CSDC 153) “The first right … is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights.” (CSDC 155) “Emphasis is given to the paramount value of the right to religious freedom.” (CSDC 155) With every right comes the incumbent duty to respect the rights of others (see CSDC 156).

 

  1. THE COMMON GOOD (SHARING)

3.1.   "The common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily” (CSDC 164) Your local hospital, the earth’s resources, our water supply and the police force are part of the common good. Also included are values such as peace and support for families.

3.2.   “The common good of society is not an end in itself; it has value only in reference to attaining the ultimate ends of the person and the universal common good of the whole of creation. God is the ultimate end of his creatures and for no reason may the common good be deprived of its transcendent dimension, which moves beyond the historical dimension while at the same time fulfilling it. This perspective reaches its fullness by virtue of faith in Jesus' Passover, which sheds clear light on the attainment of humanity's true common good. Our history — the personal and collective effort to elevate the human condition — begins and ends in Jesus: thanks to him, by means of him and in light of him every reality, including human society, can be brought to its Supreme Good, to its fulfilment. A purely historical and materialistic vision would end up transforming the common good into a simple socio-economic well-being, without any transcendental goal, that is, without its most intimate reason for existing. ” (CSDC 170)

3.3.   THE COMMON GOOD – THE REASON FOR POLITICS: Since individuals and families need to work with others to coordinate what is needed for the common good a government (political institutions) is needed to organise this. “The common good is the reason that the political authority exists.”(CSDC 168) Government is essentially people working together to provide the necessities for the common good.

3.4.   THE UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF GOODS: Catholic Social Teaching recognises that God gave all of the earth for everyone and so everyone should have their share of the planet. “God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind” (CSDC 171).

3.5.   We do not have an absolute right to what we own. “The universal right to use the goods of the earth is based on the principle of the universal destination of goods. Each person must have access to the level of well-being necessary for his full development. “…property rights and the right of free trade must be subordinated to this norm [the universal destination of goods]; they must not hinder it, but must rather expedite its application.” (CSDC 172)

3.6.   The Catholic Church has a very radical idea about people sharing what they own. The Catholic Church believes “There is no theft … if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one's disposal and use the property of others.” (CCC 2408) That means if someone has done all they can to be able to feed themselves and they have failed then they can legitimately take food owned by someone else, since this fulfils ‘the universal destination of goods’. “The poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time (cf. Mt 25:31-46)” (CSDC 183) “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.” (CSDC 184)

3.7.   THE PREFERRENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR: “The principle of the universal destination of goods requires …the preferential option for the poor … be reaffirmed in all its force.” (CSDC 182) The preferential option for the poor means that when we are planning for the common good, we think first for the poor in our communities.

  1. SOLIDARITY (FRIENDSHIP) 

4.1.   A simple name for solidarity is friendship, but it is a special kind of friendship. It means that you share in the struggle of the other person or group and you work towards the same goal. For example, if you speak up for the rights of political prisoners in another country, you speak in solidarity. If you were to walk for reconciliation with Aboriginal people, you would be walking in solidarity.

4.2.   JESUS AND SOLIDARITY: One of Jesus’ titles is ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God is with us’. “who takes on the infirmities of his people, walks with them, saves them and makes them one” (CSDC 196) These words of Jesus sum up his mission of solidarity; I have come “to bring the good news to the afflicted… to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.” (Lk 4.18f)

4.3.   FRIENDSHIP IS SOLIDARITY: Solidarity helps us see other people and nations as our neighbours. We are called to overcome barriers of race, religion, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and economic status and to work for global peace and justice.

4.4.   Christian solidarity should go further, higher, faster than its secular (non-religious) equivalent: even the enemy must be loved “with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her”, which ultimately means a willingness to lay down our lives for him or her (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis -“Social Concern” (1987), paragraph 40).

4.5.   “When you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” (Mt 25.40)

  1. SUBSIDIARITY (FREEDOM)

5.1.   The word ‘subsidiarity’ comes from the Latin word ‘subsidium’ which means to help or support. In terms of society it means that a larger social entity (eg the state government) should help and support lesser social entities such as the family. Simply, decisions should be made by the smallest group possible.

5.2.   A particular way this understood is to mean that to the extent that a smaller social entity can govern itself, it should be supported in its decisions. “It is an injustice to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.” (CSDC 186)

5.3.   This principle prevents government from excessively controlling the lives of its people. “The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms.” (CSDC 186) But also allows for governments to come to the rescue if needed. “Various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions.(CSDC 188) One way this is interpreted is that governments should be: “As small as possible, As big as necessary”

5.4.   SUBSIDIARITY REQUIRES PARTICIPATION: If societies are to be effective then everyone has the responsibility to participate and share their ideas, hopes and wishes. “In this perspective it becomes absolutely necessary to encourage participation above all of the most disadvantaged, as well as the occasional rotation of political leaders in order to forestall the establishment of hidden privileges. Moreover, strong moral pressure is needed, so that the administration of public life will be the result of the shared responsibility of each individual with regard to the common good.” (CSDC 189)

  1. THE FAMILY: The family is the first natural society with underived rights (see CSDC 211). “The family, then, does not exist for society or the State, but society and the State exist for the family.” (CSDC 214) Parents don’t have a right to children, but children “must be guaranteed” a father and mother. (see CSDC 235) The family wage should be safeguarded. (see CSDC 250)
  2. WORK: "Work represents a fundamental dimension of human existence as participation not only in the act of creation but also in that of redemption." (CSDC 263) "Work is for man and not man for work. " (CSDC 272) "Labour has an intrinsic priority over capital." (CSDC 277)
  3. ECONOMICS: Workers constitute “the firm's most valuable asset.” (CSDC 344) “In this personalistic and community vision, a business cannot be considered only as a ‘society of capital goods'; it is also a ‘society of persons'" (CSDC 338)
  4. POLITICS: “Every civilized community must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its author" (CSDC 393) This order “has no existence except in God; cut off from God it must necessarily disintegrate." (CSDC 397) “Human law is law insofar as it corresponds to right reason and therefore is derived from the eternal law. When, however, a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; in such a case it ceases to be law and becomes instead an act of violence." (CSDC 398) “Natural law is therefore the basis of the right to resistance." (CSDC 400)
  5. FREEDOM OF RELIGION "Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups." (CSDC 423)
  6. THE ENVIRONMENT "The underlying cause of these problems can be seen in man's pretension of exercising unconditional dominion over things." (CSDC 461) “The biblical texts … tell us to ‘till and keep’ the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15).” (Laudato Si, LS 67) “The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. …Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217)
  7. PEACE "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." (CSDC 490) “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.” (CSDC 494)
  8. TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY:

13.1. 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.” (CSDC 137) "Only love can completely transform the human person. 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” (CSDC 42)

13.2. You can give money to the poor, but this can perpetuate an unjust economic system. By buying Fairtrade, organic goods, the extra you pay is ‘giving money to the poor’ and transforming the economic system at the same time. "Purchasing power must be used in the context of the moral demands of justice and solidarity, and in that of precise social responsibilities. This responsibility gives to consumers the possibility, [of] taking into account … the presence of correct working conditions in the company as well as the level of protection of the natural environment in which it operates." (CSDC 359)

13.3. “A second level concerns the formation of a political conscience in order to prepare lay Christians to exercise political power." (CSDC 531)

13.4.  “In a pluralistic society, secularity … 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 … it would threaten the very spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization.” (CSDC 572)

13.5. “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.” (CSDC 577)

These appendices are added if you wish to explore some of the points in a bit more depth.

 

APPENDIX 1: CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING BACKGROUD

  1. The Catholic Church has a clear vision of a society in which the dignity of all people is respected, we work for the true good of all, freedom and initiative are encouraged and in which the issues of one are of concern to everyone.
  2. The Church has always addressed social questions, but modern social questions arising from the effects of the industrial revolution were first officially addressed in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) published in 1891. Rerum Novarum said

2.1.   Yes to private property: ““It is lawful,” says Thomas Aquinas, “for man to hold private property. … Man should not consider his outward possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without difficulty when others are in need.” (RN 19)

2.2.   No to Communism: “Thus it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, the community of goods, must be utterly rejected; for it would injure those whom it is intended to benefit, it would be contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and it would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonwealth.” (RN 15)

2.3.   Yes to Unions: “The most important of all are workmen’s associations… they should multiply and become more effective.” (RN 36)

  1. Since Rerum Novarum many popes have written social encyclicals (Papal encyclicals on social issues). Other popes since then have written another 13 papal social encyclicals including pope Francis’ Laudato Si 2015 (On Care for Our Common Home). Together with other major documents such as Lumen Gentium (The Vatican 2 document, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) 1965 this forms the core of a large body of Catholic Social Teaching. Thankfully the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace synthesised Catholic Social Teaching into one volume Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC) in 2004. While there are many useful books on Catholic Social Teaching, this is the official guide and is very readable.
  2. The CSDC establishes four principles and four values. "The permanent principles of the Church's social doctrine…are…the dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all the other principles and the common good; subsidiarity; and solidarity." (CSDC 160) The values are truth, justice, freedom and love.
  3. These principles and values are then applied to the family, human work, economic life, the political community, the international community, safeguarding the environment and the promotion of peace. It then goes on to explore how to practically live this out. Various CST sources have listed between 7 and 12 CST principles. These usually list the 4 and add various principles that are applications to the various areas.
  4. “The Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. 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)

APPENDIX 2: THE VALUES

Truth: “Men and women have the specific duty to move always towards the truth, to respect it and bear responsible witness to it.” (CSDC 198)

Freedom: “Freedom is the highest sign in man of his being made in the divine image and, consequently, is a sign of the sublime dignity of every human person.” (CSDC 199) “Our freedom tainted by sin, betrays us. “Human freedom needs therefore to be liberated. Christ, by the power of his Paschal Mystery, frees man from his disordered love of self, which is the source of his contempt for his neighbour and of those relationships marked by domination of others. Christ shows us that freedom attains its fulfilment in the gift of self. By his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus places man once more in communion with God and his neighbour.” (CSDC 143)

Justice: “Justice, ... according to its most classic formulation, “consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour”” (CSDC 201) “By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love.” (CSDC 203)

Love: “Love presupposes and transcends justice, which “must find its fulfilment in charity”. In fact, “in every sphere of interpersonal relationships justice must, so to speak, becorrected' to a considerable extent by that love which, as St. Paul proclaims, ‘is patient and kind' or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity”” (CSDC 205)

APPENDIX 3: APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES TO THE DIFFERENT AREAS OF SOCIETY

  1. THE FAMILY: “Enlightened by the radiance of the biblical message, the Church considers the family as the first natural society, with underived rights that are proper to it, and places it at the centre of social life. The family is a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order.” (CSDC 211) “The family possesses inviolable rights and finds its legitimization in human nature and not in being recognized by the State. The family, then, does not exist for society or the State, but society and the State exist for the family. In their relationship to the family, society and the State are seriously obligated to observe the principle of subsidiarity.” (CSDC 214) "The desire to be a mother or a father does not justify any “right to children”, whereas the rights of the unborn child are evident. The unborn child must be guaranteed the best possible conditions of existence through the stability of a family founded on marriage, through the complementarities of the two persons, father and mother.” (CSDC 235) "In order to protect this relationship between family and work, an element that must be appreciated and safeguarded is that of a family wage, a wage sufficient to maintain a family and allow it to live decently. " (CSDC 250)
  2. WORK: "Work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall; it is therefore not a punishment or curse." (CSDC 256) "Work represents a fundamental dimension of human existence as participation not only in the act of creation but also in that of redemption." (CSDC 263) "Human work has a twofold significance: objective and subjective. In the objective sense, it is the sum of activities, resources, instruments and technologies used … [but] as a person, man is the subject of work” (CSDC 270) "This subjectivity gives to work its particular dignity, which does not allow that it be considered a simple commodity or an impersonal element of the apparatus for productivity. The subjective dimension of work must take precedence over the objective dimension." (CSDC 271) "Human work not only proceeds from the person, but it is also essentially ordered to and has its final goal in the human person. …work is for man and not man for work. " (CSDC 272) "Labour has an intrinsic priority over capital." (CSDC 277) In other words, the workers are more important than the factory.
  3. PROPERTY: “By means of work … he makes part of the earth his own, precisely the part which he has acquired through work; this is the origin of individual property. Private property is an essential element of an authentically social and democratic economic policy, and it is the guarantee of a correct social order. The Church's social doctrine requires that ownership of goods be equally accessible to all, so that all may become, at least in some measure, owners, and it excludes recourse to forms of “common and promiscuous dominion.” (CSDC 176)
  4. ECONOMICS:

4.1.   The economic sector should be ordered towards the human person and the family including work, capital, profit, organisation, and international matters. "Work is for man and not man for work. " (CSDC 272) "Labour has an intrinsic priority over capital." (CSDC 277) "… workers constitute “the firm's most valuable asset.” (CSDC 344) “It is essential that within a business the legitimate pursuit of profit should be in harmony with the irrenounceable protection of the dignity of the people who work at different levels in the same company." (CSDC 340) "The Church's social doctrine insists on the need for business owners and management to strive to structure work in such a way so as to promote the family, especially mothers, in the fulfilment of their duties…" (CSDC 345) "One of the fundamental tasks of those actively involved in international economic matters is to achieve for mankind an integral development in solidarity, that is to say, “it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person.”" (CSDC 373)

4.2.   "Businesses should be characterized by their capacity to serve the common good of society through the production of useful goods and services. In this personalistic and community vision, a business cannot be considered only as a ‘society of capital goods'; it is also a ‘society of persons'" (CSDC 338) “It is essential that within a business the legitimate pursuit of profit should be in harmony with the irrenounceable protection of the dignity of the people who work at different levels in the same company." (CSDC 340)

4.3.   THE FREE MARKET: "The free market is an institution of social importance because of its capacity to guarantee effective results in the production of goods and services." (CSDC 347) Social usefulness is more important than profit. “The individual profit of an economic enterprise, although legitimate, must never become the sole objective. Together with this objective there is another, equally fundamental but of a higher order: social usefulness.” (CSDC 348)

  1. POLITICS

5.1.   “Since God made men social by nature, and since no society can hold together unless someone be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every civilized community must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its author" (CSDC 393) This order “has no existence except in God; cut off from God it must necessarily disintegrate." (CSDC 397)

5.2.   “Human law is law insofar as it corresponds to right reason and therefore is derived from the eternal law. When, however, a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; in such a case it ceases to be law and becomes instead an act of violence. Authority that governs according to reason places citizens in a relationship not so much of subjection to another person as of obedience to the moral order and, therefore, to God himself who is its ultimate source. Whenever public authority fails to seek the common good, it abandons its proper purpose and so delegitimizes itself." (CSDC 398) “Natural law is therefore the basis of the right to resistance." (CSDC 400)

5.3.   FREEDOM OF RELIGION: "“the truth cannot be imposed except by virtue of its own truth.” The dignity of the person and the very nature of the quest for God require that all men and women should be free from every constraint in the area of religion. Society and the State must not force a person to act against his conscience or prevent him from acting in conformity with it. Religious freedom is not a moral licence to adhere to error, nor as an implicit right to error." (CSDC 421) "Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups." (CSDC 423)

  1. THE ENVIRONMENT

6.1.   A lack of morality is the cause of the environmental crisis. " The underlying cause of these problems can be seen in man's pretension of exercising unconditional dominion over things." (CSDC 461) “We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us…. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to ‘till and keep’ the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). ’Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations” (LS 67)

6.2.   “The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. …Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (Laudato Si, LS 217)

6.3.   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. 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)

6.4.   Nature should not be divinized (see CSDC 463).

6.5.   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. They must be accompanied by a growing sense of responsibility as well as an effective change of mentality and lifestyle." (CSDC 468)

  1. PEACE

7.1.   "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." (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!”" (CSDC 492) "Working for peace can never be separated from announcing the Gospel, which is in fact the “good news of peace” (Acts 10:36; cf. Eph 6:15) addressed to all men and women." (CSDC 493)

7.2.   “Peace is not merely the absence of war, nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies. 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.” (CSDC 494)

APPENDIX 4: TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY:

  1. FIRST BE TRANSFORMED BY CHRIST, THEN TRANSFORM OTHERS: "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)." (CSDC 580)
  2. "Purchasing power must be used in the context of the moral demands of justice and solidarity, and in that of precise social responsibilities. One must never forget “the duty of charity ..., that is, the duty to give from one's ‘abundance', and sometimes even out of one's needs, in order to provide what is essential for the life of a poor person”. This responsibility gives to consumers the possibility, thanks to the wider circulation of information, of directing the behaviour of producers, through preferences — individual and collective — given to the products of certain companies rather than to those of others, taking into account not only the price and quality of what is being purchased but also the presence of correct working conditions in the company as well as the level of protection of the natural environment in which it operates." (CSDC 359)
  3. It is necessary to create “life- styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments." (CSDC 360)
  4. The Church establishes new Christian communities (see 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)
  5. "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. 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." (CSDC 531)
  6. “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)
  7. “In a pluralistic society, secularity is a place for communication between the different spiritual traditions and the nation. 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.” (CSDC 572)
Submitted by rjzaar on June 30, 2016 - 12:39pm
Modfied: April 1, 2017 - 1:49am
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