Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/13/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is time to drop the loaded political language and recapture the heart of our mission.We need to be radically Christian.

Christian social teaching challenges any notion of human freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. We are by nature and grace called to relationship. Only in communion can we become fully human and find human flourishing. This is the Christian vision of the human person which must inform a new movement.Human freedom must be exercised within a moral constitution. We currently mouth the word freedom while we build our own shackles, engaging in dehumanizing behavior. There is a moral basis to a truly free society. Freedom is not only about having a right to choose but choosing what is right and embedding within the polity the safeguards of a robust vision of freedom; it is not only a freedom from, but a freedom for. Freedom must be ordered toward choosing the good, respecting the truth about the human person, promoting marriage and the family and fostering the real common good. Our freedom must respect our obligation in solidarity to one another - because we are our brother and sisters keeper. This is the principle of solidarity or social charity.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/13/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: social justice, social doctrine, freedom, life, dignity, love of preference for the poor, catholic action, radical, movement, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On Saturday, December 7, 2013, Pope Francis addressed a delegation from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute  which had gathered for a conference in Rome.  Their motto is Promoting Human Dignity Based on the recognition that man is made in the Image and Likeness of God. 

This think tank rejects the politicized rhetoric which limits the explanation and application of the Social teaching of the Catholic Church.  They offer a source for Catholics and other Christians who are tired of the politicized language of left/right/liberal/conservative/neoconservative/neoliberal to form a new vocabulary and build a movement to effect change in the culture. It is time to drop the loaded political language and recapture the heart of our mission.We need to be radically Christian.

The Institute recognizes the assault on Christians in the cultures which have rejected the anthropological truth of the human dignity of every person as the foundation of society.In addressing the representatives of the Institute, Pope Francis said, Your institute proposes to promote human dignity on the basis of the fundamental truth about man, who is created in the image and likeness of God. So, there is an original dignity of every man and woman that cannot be suppressed, that cannot be touched by any power or ideology. Unfortunately, in our epoch, so rich in many accomplishments and hopes, there is no lack of powers and forces that end up producing a throwaway culture (cultura di scarto); and this threatens to become the dominant mentality.

The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings - the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people... who are in danger of being "thrown out," expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness" (cf. Genesis 1:26).

Instead, if we let ourselves be interrogated by this Word of God, we let it question our personal and social conscience, if we let it shake up our discussions, our ways of thinking and acting, the criteria, the priorities and choices, then things can change. The force of this Word poses limits on whoever wants to rule by abusing the rights and dignity of others. At the same time, it gives hope and consolation to those who are not able to defend themselves, to those who do not have access to the intellectual and practical means to affirm the value of their suffering, of their rights, of their life.

The Church's social doctrine, with its integral vision of man, as a personal and social being, is our "compass." Here there is a fruit that is of particular significance to the long journal of the People of God in modern and contemporary history: there is the defense of religious liberty, of life in all its phases, of the right to work and to decent work, of the family, of education. All initiatives such as your own are, therefore, welcome, initiatives that aim to help people, communities and institutions to rediscover the ethical and social importance of the principle of human dignity, which is the root of liberty and justice. In view of this purpose efforts at raising awareness and formation are necessary.

These will assist the lay faithful of every walk of life, and especially those who work in politics, to think according to the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine and to act consistently, dialoguing and collaborating with those who, with sincerity and intellectual honesty, at least share - if not the faith - a similar vision of man and society and its ethical consequences. There are not a few Christians and non-believers, who are convinced that the human person must always be an end and never a means.

We need to learn from this Institute and we need to hear those words from Pope Francis. We need to build a new form of Radical Christian action; a movement which rejects the current political labels and is  entirely committed to authentic Christian Social Thought. The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church offers principles which can steer western culture away from self destruction.

It is not only for Catholics, other Christians or even just religious people. It is for all people and all Nations. It is offered to those who seek to build a truly human and humane society and promote the real common good. The teaching is called social because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions.

Contrary to the relativism of our age which rejects any notion of objective moral truth, Catholic Social teaching insists that that there are unchangeable truths which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason.

They are revealed in the Natural Law (Catechism #1950-1960). This Natural Moral Law is present in the heart of each man and established by reason.This law is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties." (Catechism of the Catholic Church# 1956)

It is here we find those foundational human rights which must be recognized by the civil or positive law as rightfully belonging to all men and women. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (paragraph 140) further explains:

The exercise of freedom implies a reference to a natural moral law, of a universal character, that precedes and unites all rights and duties.

The natural law "is nothing other than the light of intellect infused within us by God. Thanks to this, we know what must be done and what must be avoided. 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. This law is called natural because the reason that promulgates it is proper to human nature. It is universal; it extends to all people insofar as it is established by reason.
 
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.

This Natural Moral Law is more fully revealed through faith and revelation. However, foundational truths such as the dignity of every human person at every age and stage, the nature and ends of real marriage, our obligations in solidarity to one another - are all knowable through the exercise of reason.

These truths provide a framework for structuring our social life and building a common home. We should acknowledge them together, agree upon them and then build a movement rooted in them. The social teaching of the Catholic Church offers principles to be worked into the loaf of human culture.

Christian social teaching challenges any notion of human freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. We are by nature and grace called to relationship. Only in communion can we become fully human and find human flourishing. This is the Christian vision of the human person which must inform a new movement.

Human freedom must be exercised within a moral constitution. We currently mouth the word freedom while we build our own shackles, engaging in dehumanizing behavior. There is a moral basis to a truly free society. Freedom is not only about having a right to choose but choosing what is right and embedding within the polity the safeguards of a robust vision of freedom; it is not only a freedom from, but a freedom for.

Freedom must be ordered toward choosing the good, respecting the truth about the human person, promoting marriage and the family and fostering the real common good. Our freedom must respect our obligation in solidarity to one another - because we are our brother and sisters keeper. This is the principle of solidarity or social charity.

The Catholic Church rightly reminds all men and women of our obligation to give a love of preference to the poor. This is the kind of love which the Lord Himself shows in his identification with the poor. The implications of our response to this command are expounded upon in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew.

This means incorporating in the social order a concern for their well being. We can construct a system which includes them within its embrace and expands the promise of participation and advancement. Catholic social teaching does not propose a particular economic theory. Rather, it insists that every economic order must first be at the service of the dignity of the human person and the family and further the common good. 

In recent encyclicals and magisterial teaching the market economy has been recognized as having a real potential for promoting all of these goods - when properly understood and morally structured.

The Catholic Church prophetically stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system.  She prophetically 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.

She reminds consumerist western culture that the market economy must be at the service the human person, the family and the common good, lest 'capitalism' conflate its claims to offering freedom and become what Blessed John Paul II once referred to as savage in its application and encourage business practices which devolve into greed.

The Church warns against and rejects collectivism, whether of the left or the right on the political spectrum. The Church's social doctrine holds that authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity can also be conducted within economic activity, and are not only outside it or after it.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in his 1999 encyclical letter Charity in Truth, The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner.

Contrary to what some wrote after that letter was published, it neither endorsed nor rejected capitalism. As the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church consistently has done in the past it simply did not use the term, preferring the terms market economy or free economy.

So it was with the Apostolic Exhortation entitled The Joy of the Gospel from Pope Francis. Markets can only be free when free people are engaged in them. Freedom is a good of the person. A free economy should also seek to continually expand by opening the way for the participation for as many people as possible, while promoting enterprise and initiative.

Also, though we are 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, either of the left or the right. Subsidiarity in governance and economic participation rejects the usurping by a larger entity of participation which can be done at the lowest practicable level.

The West, with all of its promise of freedom, flirts with an instrumentalist materialism devoid of any understanding that the market was made for man not man for the market. In this mistaken approach to a free market economic order the accumulation of capital can come to be viewed as prior to the flourishing of the person, the family and the common good.

We cannot separate moral, social and economic issues in the body politic, just as we cannot separate the spirit, soul and body of a person. Human society is a form of corporate person. All of our political and economic concerns have some moral dimension because they concern the human person.  The reason we care about expanding economic opportunity is because we respect the dignity of every human person and want to expand participation to as many human persons as we can. 

The reason we should care for all of the poor, in all of their manifestations, is because they all have human dignity, having all been created in the Image of God. This is where the Institute for Human Dignity has done a great service in formulating their Declaration. This is at the heart of what Pope Francis not only writes about, but proclaims in prophetic word and deed.The Institute for Human Dignity is a resource for offering the material out of which we can shape a Radical Christian Action movement.

In the Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis wrote that among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care, with particular love and concern, are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church's effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.

Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.

Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, "every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or "modernizations". It is not "progressive" to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.(Par. 213,214)

He was absolutely correct. It is not "progressive" to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. A new movement should reject all the current political labels. If anything, it could be described as radical, if we consider the true meaning of that word.

The word radical means returning to the root. That is what we must do, return to the root recognition that every single human person, at every age and stage of life, has human dignity because they are created in the Image of God. It is time for a movement grounded in the real Social Doctrine of the Church which reaches out to the broader Christian community and other people of faith and good will.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2016
Universal:
Human Solidarity: That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find-even within the huge cities of the world-opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices: That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.



Comments


More U.S.

Pokemon Go player with CCW halts attempted robbery Watch

Image of A Pokemon Go player has halted a robbery.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Pokemon Go player with a concealed weapons permit stopped a robbery in Las Vegas. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Good for one Pokemon Go player who stopped a robbery thanks to the Second Amendment, which allows Americans to protect themselves. A group of six ... continue reading


'I was thinking as long as I have my hands up ... they're not going to shoot me.' Police fire shots at unarmed black therapist as he lies on the ground asking not to be shot Watch

Image of Officer shoots unarmed black man then cuffed him (WSVN).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey was attempting to calm his autistic patient, who had run away from a group home, when officers arrived on the scene and shot him. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to WSVN, officers in North Miami responded to a report of ... continue reading


DEADLY heatwave settles over U.S., here's what you need to know to stay safe Watch

Image of Most of the U.S. under alert.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The worst heatwave in years is here and it will scorch the entire country from Central California to the Great Lakes, to New England. The heat will be dangerous and persistent. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Ask people what the most deadly weather phenomenon is ... continue reading


Texas female teacher slammed to ground - White officer claims blacks have 'violent tendencies' Watch

Image of Breaion King was slammed to the ground for not moving her legs.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A disturbing video was recently released over a year after a white Texas officer slams a black second-grade teacher to the pavement. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The video was recorded on the officer Brian Richtor's dash cam. He pulled second-grade teacher ... continue reading


'Here the church is their family and they know they are loved': The Church reaches out to Hispanics Watch

Image of Over half of Catholic millennials in the United States are Hispanic.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Louisiana's Diocese of Shreveport has hired its first diocesan for Hispanic youths. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hispanics compose over half the United States' Catholics yet several states offer little to no Spanish-language or Latino-centered church groups.The ... continue reading


Deacon Fournier on the Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Soil Watch

Image of The meaning of the agrarian parables that Jesus used has become increasingly clear as I watch those fields become green every Spring. Of course, preceding all of this, there were barren looking fields, seemingly lifeless, that is before the seed was sown. Preparing the ground for the seed involves hard work, cooperative weather and the goodness of the God who created this beautiful and fruitful world.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Living Word has been sown within us. We must assist in cultivating the ground of our hearts in order to be more fully transformed by grace and reflect the Image and Likeness of God. We are called to grow in holiness and allow the Risen Life of Jesus Christ to ... continue reading


305k believers gather in Washington DC to pray Jesus 'resets the generation' Watch

Image of Tim Tebow makes appearance and speech (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hundreds of thousands of Christians met at the National Mall in Washington D.C. this weekend to join together in an event aimed at resetting the generation. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, Together Reset believes there is power in ... continue reading


Who Are the Mother and Brothers of Jesus? We Are! Watch

Image of Through our Baptism, we are all invited into the very family of God. We are the mother and brother and sister of Jesus

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Through our Baptism, we are all invited into the very family of God. When we choose to be obedient to the will and the Word of God; we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We actually become a part of the "family" of God; ... continue reading


God's Not Dead 2 Billboard deemed too 'provocative' while atheism ads go unnoticed Watch

Image of Atheist group spreads hate unchallenged.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Notorious atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has purchased billboard space near Cleveland airport to greet the Republican National Committee (RNC). Meanwhile, a pro-religion message has been disqualified. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Religious ... continue reading


Baton Rouge Shooting: New information revealed about war veteran gunman Watch

Image of Shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Six people were shot Sunday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three of the victims were police officers, each of whom were killed, and three were civilians, all of whom survived the shooting. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sunday morning, 29-year-old Marine Corps ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Pope Francis 'implores God's peace for the world' after horrific ...
  • PLEASE PRAY! Catholic priest savagely beheaded by ISIS terrorists ...
  • Pokemon Go player with CCW halts attempted robbery
  • I am Ready for Love HD Video
  • Prayer for a Blessing on the New Year HD Video
  • St. Pantaleon: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 10-15
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:11, 13-14, 17-18
11 Yahweh has sworn to David, and will always remain true to his word, 'I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:16-17
16 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 26th, 2016 Image

Sts. Joachim and Anne
July 26: Saints Joaquin (sometimes spelled "Joachim," ... Read More