Social Justice: Take Back the Term from the Thieves and Build a New Catholic Action
Another truth is that all human persons created in the Image of God, are created for one another and called to community. We can never fully experience human flourishing outside of social relationships. These relationships are perfective of our human person. The human person is by nature - and grace - made for relationship. The first community which humanizes and civilizes us is the family.
This social doctrine rejects any notion of "freedom" which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. Authentic human freedom must be exercised within a moral constitution, choosing what is good and what is true. Otherwise it becomes a counterfeit and enslaves. It must also recognize our obligation in solidarity to one another. We are our brother/sister's keeper.
This social doctrine offers principles to help us order our economies. It does not propose any particular economic theory. Rather it insists that every economic order be at the service of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and the family. We are called to give a love of preference to the poor, recognizing our solidarity with them. This call to solidarity is to be applied through the application of the principle of subsidiarity, rejecting all forms of dehumanizing collectivism.
The market economy has been recognized in recent social teaching as having a real potential for promoting all of these goods - when properly understood and morally structured. However, the Catholic Church does not take a position on which economic theory is the "best" among many. She properly stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system. She properly cautions Nations which have adopted a form of liberal capitalism that there are dangers in any form of "economism" or materialism which promotes the use of persons as products and fails to recognize the value of being over acquiring.
The truths and principles contained within Catholic social doctrine are not merely "religious" positions, in the sense that only religious people need assent to them. They are revealed by the Natural Law and can be known through the exercise of reason. The truths are true for all people and for all time. The Church calls us to offer them as leaven to be worked into the loaf of human culture. We are called to build a just and human society.
My experience at this conference reflected a trend I have experienced. Many have begun to use the phrase "Social Justice" in a disparaging manner. They want to expose the dangerous error committed by some who stolen the term "Social Justice". However, I caution that language really matters. Some words and phrases must be rescued when they are stolen. Social Justice is such a term. It lies at the heart of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church and, properly understood, is key to building a new culture of life and civilization of love.
I contend that it is time to take back this vital term from those who have stolen it. I am sure that some of my readers who disagree would rush the platform if there was one, like that man at the conference did. However, I won't give up using it because it is a term worth fighting for. It is time for us to take back social justice from thieves and build a new Catholic Action informed by the true Social Doctrine of the Catholic church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: social justice, catholic, abortion, marriage, activism, glen beck
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