(For those on email, click here to watch the video.)
During my sophomore year of college, I had a sort of “Catholic Awakening.” Baptized as a child and deeply committed to my faith since high school, it was around this time that I discovered the rich tradition of social teaching in our Church. Called “the best kept secret” in the Catholic Church, Catholic Social Teaching is the social justice component of our faith, the part of the Gospel that demands that we care for our sisters and brothers. I was amazed at the commitment the Church had towards the poor, doing wonderful acts of charity, of course, but also calling for serious acts of justice. In a sense, the Church calls all of us Christians to look out into the world, identify injustice, and work to build the Kingdom of God in its place. It was powerful, insightful, and revolutionary to me at the time.
What the Church wrote in its documents and what I saw it doing in the streets made sense to my intellect, but truly spoke to my heart. I wanted to know more. For the first time in my life, I began to study everything about the Church in a substantive way: theology, liturgy, history, scripture, morality. It was truly the start of my adult faith.
Today, I present to you a small snippet of that faith, a quick foundation in what sparked my serious interest many years ago. As Christians, we are all called to live the Gospel, not just in prayer and thanksgiving, but in serious works of charity and justice. I hope that this video speaks to you as it did for me many years ago. If it does, or you’d like to know more, I’ve copied a few of my favorite quotes from Catholic Social Teaching below:
“Decisions must be judged in light of what they do for the poor, what they do to the poor, and what they enable the poor to do for themselves. The fundamental moral criterion for all economic decisions, policies, and institutions is this: they must be at the service of all people, especially the poor.” Economic Justice for All 24
“The root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God.” Gaudium et Spes 19
“A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.” Populorum Progressio 101
“Profit is useful if it serves as a means towards an end that provides a sense both of how to produce it and how to make good use of it. Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.” Caritas in Veritate 21
“We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves.” Laudato si 128
“Each of us as Catholics must acknowledge a share in the mistakes and sins of the past. Many of us have been prisoners of fear and prejudice. We have preached the Gospel while closing our eyes to the racism it condemns. We have allowed conformity to social pressures to replace compliance with social justice.” Brothers and Sisters to us
“Peace is but an empty word, if it does not rest upon that order which Our hope prevailed upon Us to set forth in outline in this encyclical. It is an order that is founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.” Pacem in Terris 167
“When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State.” Rerum Novarum 37
“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.” Evangelii Gaudium 56