- Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching encompasses aspects of Catholic doctrine relating to matters dealing with the collective welfare of humanity. The foundations of modern Catholic social teaching are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter "
A distinctive feature of Catholic social teaching is its concern for the poorest members of society. This concern echoes elements of Jewish law and the prophetic books of the
Old Testament, and recalls the teachings of Jesus Christrecorded in the New Testament, such as his declaration that "whatever you have done for one of these least brothers of Mine, you have done for Me." [Matthew 25:40.] Catholic social doctrine is also distinctive in its consistent critiques of modern social and political ideologies both of the left and of the right: Communism, conservatism, socialism, libertarianism, capitalism, liberalismand Nazismhave all been condemned, at least in their pure forms, by the popes at one time or another.
In the field of practical politics, Catholic social teaching has been instrumental in the rise of Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America. Connections can also be drawn between Catholic thought and corporatist economic policies such as those pursued by Mussolini in
Italyand Juan Peronin Argentina.
even Key themes
United States Conference of Catholic Bishopshas identified seven key themes of Catholic Social Teaching which are:
anctity of human life and dignity of the person
The foundational principle of all Catholic social teachings is the sanctity of human life. Catholics believe in an inherent dignity of the human person starting from conception through natural death. They believe that human life must be valued infinitely above material possessions.
Pope John Paul IIwrote and spoke extensively on the topic of the inviolabilityof human life and dignity in his watershed encyclical, " Evangelium Vitae", (Latin for "The Gospel of Life").
Catholics oppose acts considered attacks and affronts to human life, including
abortion, [ Evangelium Vitae§ 62.] euthanasia, [ Evangelium Vitae§ 65;, Catechism of the Catholic Church§ 2277.] and every deliberate taking of life. In the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, " Gaudium et Spes" (Latin for "Joy and Hope"), it is written that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care ." [ Gaudium et Spes§ 51.] Genocide, torture, and the direct and intentional targeting of noncombatants in war or terrorist attacks are considered wrong.
The [http://www.osjspm.org/majordoc_us_bishops_statement_capital_punishment.aspx U.S. Catholic Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment of 1974] , declared a commitment to the value and dignity of human life. Bishop John May, of Mobile, Alabama, proposed a brief resolution which said simply: "The [http://www.usccb.org/ U.S. Catholic Conference] goes on record in opposition to
capital punishment." Catholic teaching accepts the principle that the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime, and that the state may take appropriate measures to protect itself and its citizens from grave harm, nevertheless, the question for judgment and decision today is whether capital punishment is justifiable under present circumstances. The Catechism of the Catholic Church(no. 2267) states: "If...non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person".
Catholics do not necessarily oppose war; there are pacifists and just war theorists. Catholics discourage application of the
death penalty, [ Evangelium Vitae§ 56.] the former being guided by the principles of just wardoctrine and recourse to the latter is not excluded "if this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor." [ Catechism of the Catholic Church§ 2267.] It is argued that the defense of lives includes the provision of deterrence and the establishment of justice. Both war and the death penalty must always be a last resort. In addition, believing humans are made in the image and likeness of God,, [see Genesis1:26.] Catholic doctrine teaches to respect all humans based on an supposed inherent dignity. According to John Paul II, every human person "is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God." [ Evangelium Vitae§ 2.] Catholics oppose racismand other forms of discrimination. In 2007, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote:
Catholic teaching about the dignity of life calls us to oppose torture, unjust war, and the use of the death penalty; to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; and to overcome poverty and suffering. Nations are called to protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort, always seeking first to resolve disputes by peaceful means. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God. [" [http://www.usccb.org/bishops/FCStatement.pdf Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States] , " United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.]
Call to family, community, and participation
According to the
Book of Genesis, immediately after forming Adam the "LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone.". [ Genesis2:18.] The Catholic Church teaches that man is now not only a sacred but also a social animal and that families are the first and most basic units of a society. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family—based on marriage between a man and a woman—is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Together families form communities, communities a state and together all across the world each human is part of the human family. How these communities organize themselves politically, economically and socially is thus of the highest importance. Each institution must be judged by how much it enhances, or is a detriment to, the life and dignity of human persons.
Catholic Social Teaching opposes
collectivistapproaches such as Communismbut at the same time it also rejects unrestricted laissez-fairepolicies and the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. The state has a positive moral role to play as no society will achieve a just and equitable distribution of resources with a totally free market. [Economic Justice, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.] All people have a right to participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of society [Participation, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.] and under the principle of subsidiaritystate functions should be carried out at the lowest level that is practical. [Role of Government and Subsidiarity, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.]
Rights and responsibilities
Every person has a fundamental right to life and to the necessities of life. In addition, every human has the right to what is required to live a full and decent life, things such as employment, health care, and education. [Rights and Responsibilities, [http://www.osjspm.org/major_themes.aspx Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.] The right to exercise religious freedom publicly and privately by individuals and institutions along with freedom of conscience need to be constantly defended. In a fundamental way, the right to free expression of religious beliefs protects all other rights.
The Church supports private property and teaches that “every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own." [
Rerum Novarum§ 6.] The right to private property is not absolute, however, and is limited by the concept of the social mortgage. [ " Solicitudo Rei Socialis" § 42.] It is theoretically moral and just for its members to destroy property used in an evil way by others, or for the state to redistribute wealth from those who have unjustly hoarded it. [http://salt.claretianpubs.org/cstline/tline.html The Busy Christian's Guide to Social Teaching] .]
Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Rights should be understood and exercised in a moral framework rooted in the dignity of the human person.
Preferential Option for the poor and vulnerable
Jesus taught that on the
Day of JudgementGod will ask what each of us did to help the poor and needy: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." [Matthew 25:40.] This is reflected in the Church's canon law, which states, " [The Christian faithful] are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources." [1983 CIC, [http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PU.HTM canon 222 §2] .]
Through our words, prayers and deeds we must show solidarity with, and compassion for, the poor. When instituting public policy we must always keep the "preferential option for the poor" at the forefront of our minds. The moral test of any society is "how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor." [Option for the Poor, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.]
Pope Benedict XVIhas taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel”. [ [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html Deus Caritas Est] §22. ] This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond—unborn children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, and victims of injustice and oppression.
Dignity of work and the rights of workers
Society must pursue economic justice and the
economymust serve people, not the other way around. Employers must not "look upon their work people as their bondsmen, but... respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character." [ Rerum Novarum§ 20.] Employers contribute to the common good through the services or products they provide and by creating jobs that uphold the dignity and rights of workers.
Workers have a right to work, to earn a
living wage, and to form trade unions [ Rerum Novarum§ 49.] to protect their interests. All workers have a right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions. [Economic Justice, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.] Workers also have responsibilities—to provide a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, to treat employers and co-workers with respect, and to carry out their work in ways that contribute to the common good. Workers must "fully and faithfully" perform the work they have agreed to do.
In 1933, the
Catholic Worker Movementwas founded by Dorothy Dayand Peter Maurin. It was committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the marginalized and poorest in Society. Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.
"Solidarity is undoubtedly a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God's triune intimate life...." [
Solicitudo Rei Socialis§ 40.] It is a unity that binds members of a group together.
All the peoples of the world belong to one human family. We must be our brother's keeper, [see
Genesis4:9.] though we may be separated by distance, language or culture. Jesus teaches that we must each love our neighbors as ourselves and in the parable of the Good Samaritanwe see that our compassion should extend to all people. [see Luke 10:25-37.] Solidarity includes the Scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us—including immigrants seeking work, a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families.
Solidarity at the international level primarily concerns the
Global South. For example, the Church has habitually insisted that loans be forgiven on many occasions, particularly during Jubilee years. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-04-03-pope-bono_x.htm?POE=LIFISVA Bono recalls pontiff's affection for the poor — and cool sunglasses] .] Charity to individuals or groups must be accompanied by transforming unjust structures.
Care for God's creation
A Biblical vision of justice is much more comprehensive than civil equity; it encompasses right relationships between all members of God’s creation. Stewardship of creation: The world's goods are available for humanity to use only under a "
social mortgage" which carries with it the responsibility to protect the environment. The "goods of the earth" are gifts from God, and they are intended by God for the benefit of everyone. [Stewardship of God's Creation, [http://www.osjspm.org/cst/themes.htm Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching] , Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.] Man was given dominion over all creation as sustainer rather than as exploiter, [see Genesis1:26-30.] and is commanded to be a good steward of the gifts God has given him. [ see Matthew 25:14-30.] We cannot use and abuse the natural resources God has given us with a destructive consumer mentality.
Catholic Social Teaching recognizes that the poor are the most vulnerable to environmental impact and endure disproportional hardship when natural areas are exploited or damaged. US Bishops established an environmental justice program to assist parishes and dioceses who wanted to conduct education, outreach and advocacy about these issues. The [http://www.nccbuscc.org/sdwp/ejp/ US Conference of Catholic Bishops Environmental Justice Program (EJP)] calls Catholics to a deeper respect for God’s creation and engages parishes in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor.
The principles of Catholic social teaching, though in most cases far older in origin, first began to be combined together into a system in the late nineteenth century. Since then, successive popes have added to and developed the Church's body of social teaching, principally through the medium of encyclical letters.
"Rerum Novarum" and "Quadragesimo Anno"
May 15 1891, Pope Leo XIIIissued his seminal encyclical " Rerum Novarum", subtitled "On Capital and Labor". In this document, Leo set out the Catholic Church's response to the social instability and labor conflict that had arisen in the wake of industrialization and had led to the rise of socialism. The Pope taught that the role of the State is to promote social justice through the protection of rights, while the Church must speak out on social issues in order to teach correct social principles and ensure class harmony. He restated the Church's long-standing teaching regarding the crucial importance of private property rights, but recognised, in one of the best-known passages of the encyclical, that the free operation of market forces must be tempered by moral considerations:
: "Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice." [
Rerum Novarum, § 45 ]
"Rerum Novarum" is remarkable for its vivid depiction of the plight of the nineteenth-century urban poor and for its condemnation of unrestricted capitalism. Among the remedies it prescribed were the formation of trade unions and the introduction of collective bargaining, particularly as an alternative to state intervention. "Rerum Novarum" also recognized that the poor have a special status in consideration of social issues: the modern Catholic principle of the "preferential option for the poor" and the notion that God is on the side of the poor found their first expression in this document. [http://salt.claretianpubs.org/cstline/tline.html The Busy Christian's Guide to Social Teaching] .] [
Catholic Encyclopedia(1911): Rerum Novarum.]
Forty years after "Rerum Novarum", and more than a year into the
Great Depression, Pope Pius XIissued " Quadragesimo Anno", subtitled "On Reconstruction of the Social Order". Released on May 15of 1931, this encyclical expanded on "Rerum Novarum", noting the positive effect of the earlier document but pointing out that the world had changed significantly since Pope Leo's time. Pius XI reiterated Leo's defence of private property rights and collective bargaining, and repeated his contention that blind economic forces cannot create a just society on their own:
:"Just as the unity of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes, so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching. Destroying through forgetfulness or ignorance the social and moral character of economic life, it held that economic life must be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority, because in the market, i.e., in the free struggle of competitors, it would have a principle of self direction which governs it much more perfectly than would the intervention of any created intellect. But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life..." [
Quadragesimo Anno§ 88.]
"Quadragesimo Anno" also supported state intervention to mediate labor-management conflicts (a reference to the economic system which Mussolini was attempting to establish in Italy at the time), and introduced the concept of
subsidiarityinto Catholic thought.
One question which had occupied some Catholics prior to "Quadragesimo Anno" was whether Leo XIII's condemnation of radical left-wing politics in "Rerum Novarum" extended only to outright
Communismor whether it included milder forms of Socialismas well. Pius made it clear that non-communistic Socialism was included in the condemnation. The Catholic Church thus marked out a distinctive position for itself between free-market capitalism on the right and statist Socialism on the left.
Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council
Further development came in the post-
World War IIperiod when attention turned to the problems of social and economic development and international relations. On May 15, 1961 Pope John XXIIIreleased " Mater et Magistra", subtitled "Christianity and Social Progress". This encyclical expanded the Church's social doctrine to cover the relations between rich and poor nations, examining the obligation of rich countries to assist poor countries while respecting their particular cultures. It includes an examination of the threat of global economic imbalances to world peace. On April 11, 1963, Pope John expanded further on this in " Pacem in Terris" (Latin for "Peace on Earth"), the first encyclical addressed to both Catholics and non-Catholics. In it, the Pope linked the establishment of world peace to the laying of a foundation consisting of proper rights and responsibilities between individuals, social groups, and states from the local to the international level. He exhorted Catholics to understand and apply the social teachings::"Once again we exhort our people to take an active part in public life, and to contribute towards the attainment of the common good of the entire human family as well as to that of their own country. They should endeavor, therefore, in the light of the Faith and with the strength of love, to ensure that the various institutions--whether economic, social, cultural or political in purpose -- should be such as not to create obstacles, but rather to facilitate or render less arduous people's perfectioning of themselves both in the natural order as well as in the supernatural." [ Pacem in Terris§ 146.]
It was Pope John XXIII who convened the
Second Vatican Council, which considered a wide variety of topics in its four sessions from 1962 to 1965, and which was presided over by Pope Paul VIafter Pope John's death in 1963. The primary conciliar document concerning social teachings is " Gaudium et Spes", the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World", which is considered one of the chief accomplishments of the Council. Unlike earlier documents, this is an expression of all the bishops, and covers a wide range of issues of the relationship of social concerns and Christian action. Fundamentally, this document asserts the fundamental dignity of each human being, and declares the Church's solidaritywith both those who suffer, and those who would comfort the suffering:
:"The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ." [
Gaudium et Spes§ 1.]
Other conciliar documents such as "
Dignitatis Humanae", written largely by American Jesuit John Courtney Murray, who was silenced for his views on religious freedom prior to Vatican II, have important applications to the social teachings of the Church on freedom today. [Catholic Social Teaching: 1891-Present]
Pope Paul VI
Like his predecessor, Pope Paul VI gave attention to the disparities in wealth and development between the industrialised West and the Third World:
:"There can be no progress towards the complete development of individuals without the simultaneous development of all humanity in the spirit of solidarity." [
March 26, 1967, " Populorum Progressio", (Latin for "The Development of Peoples"), asserts that free international trade alone is not adequate to correct these disparities and supports the role of international organizations in addressing this need. Pope Paul called on rich nations to meet their moral obligation to poor nations, pointing out the relationship between development and peace. The intention of the Church is not to take sides, but to be an advocate for basic human dignity:
:"Experienced in human affairs, the Church ... "seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit." ... But, since the Church lives in history, she ought to "scrutinize the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel." Sharing the noblest aspirations of men and women and suffering when she sees them not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full flowing, and that is why she offers all people what she possesses as her characteristic attribute: a global vision of man and of the human race." [
The May 1971 apostolic letter "
Octogesima Adveniens" addressed the challenge of urbanization and urban poverty and stressed the personal responsibility of Christians to respond to injustice. For the tenth anniversary of the Second Vatican CouncilPope Paul issued " Evangelii Nuntiandi", (Latin for "Evangelization in the Modern World") ( October 26, 1975). In it he asserts that combating injustice is an essential part of evangelizing modern peoples.
Pope John Paul II and the new millennium
John Paul II, who was elected to the papacy in 1978, continued his predecessors' work of developing the body of Catholic social doctrine. Of particular importance was his 1981 encyclical "
:"On one hand there is a growing moral sensitivity alert to the value of every individual as a human being without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or social class. On the other hand these proclamations are contradicted in practice. How can these solemn affirmations be reconciled with the widespread attacks on human life and the refusal to accept those who are weak, needy, elderly, or just conceived? These attacks go directly against respect for life; they threaten the very meaning of democratic coexistence, and our cities risk becoming societies of people who are rejected, marginalized, uprooted, and oppressed, instead of communities of "people living together." [
Evangelium Vitae§ 18.]
While not endorsing any particular political agenda, the Church holds that this teaching applies in the public (political) realm, not only the private.
Former British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcherhas argued that John Paul II was significantly more friendly towards capitalism than Paul VI, an attitude that she attributed to his experience of Communism in Poland. On the other hand, Gorbachev described John Paul II as was of the most influential thinkers of the Left. Certain other discontinuities between the different Popes' approaches to social questions may perhaps be discerned: for example, Prof. Eamon Duffyhas argued that Leo XIII's successor, Pope Pius X, retreated somewhat from the position articulated in "Rerum Novarum". On the other hand, the general development of Catholic social teaching since the nineteenth century has been consistent and evolutionary, with the Church continuing both to insist upon the importance of the ethical dimension of social and political action and to critique ideologies of the left and of the right, from Communism to "Laissez-faire", which it judges not to conform with the requirements of Christian morality. Christian Democracy, a political movement in numerous European countries, took the social and political principles taught by the Popes as its main agenda. Catholic principles have also influenced many other political movements in varying degrees throughout the Christian world, even in non-Catholic nations.
John Paul II qualifies the teaching of private ownership in relation to the common use of goods that all men as children of God are entitled to. The Church "has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone." [ "Laborem Exercens," Proclaiming Justice and Peace ]
The teaching of subsidiarity has always been complemented by the principle of
Encyclicals and other official documents of the Catholic Social Teaching tradition
Rerum Novarum" (1891)
Quadragesimo Anno" (1931)
Mater et Magistra" (1961)
Pacem in Terris" (1963)
Dignitatis Humanae" (1965)
Populorum Progressio" (1967)
Octogesima Adveniens" (1971)
Laborem Exercens" (1981)
Solicitudo Rei Socialis" (1987)
Evangelium Vitae" (1995)
Centesimus Annus" (1991)
Catholic social teaching in action
Several organs of the
Holy Seeare dedicated to social issues. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peaceis tasked with promoting "justice and peace in the world, in the light of the Gospel and of the social teaching of the Church."cite | title=Art 142, Pastor Bonus| author= Pope John Paul II| publisher=Holy See | date=1988-06-28] It works to clarify, expand upon, and develop new teachings in the areas of peace, justice, and human rights. The council also collaborates with local and international Catholic organizations working in those areas, and works with the social welfare organs of the United Nations, through the Secretariat of State. [cite web | title=Profile | url=http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_pro_20011004_en.html | publisher=Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace | accessdate=2008-03-18] The Pontifical Council Cor Unumis the Holy See's primary organ devoted to charitable works. The council supervises the activities of Caritas International. It also operates the John Paul II Foundation for the Saheland the Populorum Progressio Foundation. [cite web | title=History | url=http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/corunum/corunum_en/profilo/istituzione_en.html | publisher=Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" | accessdate=2008-03-18] The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciencespromotes the study and progress of social sciences. The academy works with various dicasteries, especially the Council for Justice and Peace, to contribute to the development of the Church's social teachings. [cite web | url=http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdscien/own/documents/rc_pa_acdscien_doc_09111999_history_social_en.html | title=Motu Proprio, History and Aim | publisher=Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences | accessdate=2008-03-18]
As the international humanitarian agency of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishopsand the Catholic community of the United States, Catholic Relief Servicesdraws upon a rich tradition of Scripture and Catholic social teaching, which serve as the foundation for CRS' Guiding Principles. Acting as a guide to what a just world might look like, these Principles are shared across religious and cultural boundaries and articulate values that are common among people who seek to promote and work towards true justice and lasting peace. See also [http://www.crs.org/about/guiding-principles.cfm/ Catholic Relief Services Guiding Principles] .
subsidiarityprinciple which originated in Rerum novarumwas established in European Union(EU) law by the Treaty of Maastricht, signed on 7 February 1992and entered into force on 1 November 1993. The present formulation is contained in Article 5 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community(consolidated version following the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003).
1870s and 1880s
Catholic participation in the
Knights of Laborsupported by Baltimore's Cardinal Gibbons.
Edward McGlynn's work first in St. Stephen's Parish in New York and his later alliance and support of and activity with Henry Georgeand the land value taxationfor social justice movement.
Msgr. John Ryan's and Fr. Edwin O'Hara's work for minimum wage legislation and Ryan's service as the Director of the Social Action Division of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.Historian John McGreevey notes: "Priests across the country in the 1930s encouraging their parishioners to join unions, and some like Pittsbugh's
Charles Rice, Detroit's Frederick Siedenberg, and Buffalo's Monsignor John P.Boland, served on regional labor boards and played key roles in workplace negotiations."The Catholic Worker Movementand Dorothy Daygrew out of the same impetuses to put catholic social teaching into action.
More recent examples of catholic social justice in action is the Campaign for Human Development created in part as an outgrowth of the work of
Msgr. Geno Baroni, who founded the National Center for Urban Ethnics (NCUEA). NCUEA spawned, funded and trained hundreds of parish, neighborhood and community based organizations, organizers, credit unions, and local programs. Baroni's catholic social justice in action included notable proteges, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, currently the longest serving woman in Congress and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD. Barack Obama's first community organizing project was funded by the Campaign for Human Development. [ Kromkowski, John A and Kromkowski, John David. "An American Catholic Perspective on Urban Neighborhoods: The Lens of Monsignor Geno C. Baroni and The Legacy of the Neighborhood Movement",Scranton University, 2007 Conference "Two Social Justice Perspectives: Henry George and the Catholic Church"] Andrew Greeleydescribes the mid-70s as a demarcation between the “old" catholic social activist and the “new" catholic social activist or the “pre-Berrigan” and “post-Berrigan” approaches to activism. Both traditions appear to co-exist, today. In “Catholic Social Activism – Real or Rad/Chic?”, Greeley saw the old social justice action in labor schools, labor priest, and community organizing that “mastered the politics of coalition building with the system.” Leading figures in that “old” tradition for Greeley were Ryan, Higgins, Egan and Baroni. On the other hand, the “new” Catholic action came out of the Berrigan experience and the peace movement and was heavily involved in confrontation and protest. The "new" tradition's lack of tangible success in comparison to the "old" tradition, Greeley scathingly predicted:
"The old social actionists are largely men of action, doers, not talkers. The new social actionists are intellectuals...They are masters at manipulating words and sometimes ideas...They are fervant crusaders. [But] winning strikes, forming unions, organizing communities are not their 'things', they are much more concerned about creating world economic justice." [ Andrew Greeley, "Catholic Social Activism: Real or Rad/Chic?" The National Catholic Reporter February 7, 1975.]
* [http://www.centesimusannus.org/ "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation"] - Vatican foundation established in 1993 to make Catholic Social Teaching more widely known and better understood.
* [http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/catholicteachingprinciples.shtml Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops]
* [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church] (ISBN 1-57455-692-4)
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