Social Teachings of the Catholic Church Term Paper

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Social Teachings of the Catholic Church

The objective of this work is to explore the question of how the Catholic Church relates to the world through its social teachings. This work will describe the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching and then analyze how these principles could be applied to social issues.

The work of William J. Byron entitled: "Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teaching" states that in June 1998 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued 'Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Direction -- Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' which called to the attention of all the Catholics in the United States "the existence of Catholic social principles - a body of doctrine...." that according to Catholic Bishops "far too many Catholics are not familiar [with]."..many Catholics do not adequately understand that the social teaching of the Church is an essential part of Catholic Faith." (Byron, 1998) Byron relates that the pastoral letter "Economic Justice for All" which was a document in which the bishops "issued a 10-point summary of their teaching on the applicability of the Catholic social principles to the economy..." however, the real intention of those on the task force was "the broader issue of Catholic social thought to a range of issues that go beyond the economic to include family, religion, social, political, technological, recreational and cultural consideration." (Byron, 1998)

I. Ten Principles of Catholic Church Social Teaching

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Byron (1998) states that there are ten fundamental social principles of Catholicism which are those as follows:

1) the Principle of Human Dignity

2) the Principle of Respect for Human Life

3) the Principle of Association

4) the Principle of Participation

5) the Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable

6) the Principle of Solidarity

7) the Principle of Stewardship

Term Paper on Social Teachings of the Catholic Church the Assignment

8) the Principle of Stewardship

9) the Principle of Human Equality; and 10) the Principle of the Common Good. (Byron, 1998)

These 10 categories are able, in the view of Byron (1998) to:."..accommodate every conceivable social issue; they can provide any social problem with an analytical home." In fact these 10 categories may serve as the."..base for moral instruction and formation of conscience." (Byron, 1998) Human life is sacred in the Catholic belief and the individual human 'dignity' is the very foundation of morality in society. This one belief is held as "...the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching." (Social Development and World Peace, 2005) the Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response" states that: "At the center of all Catholic social teaching are the transcendence of God and the dignity of the human person. The human person is the clearest reflection of God's presence in the world... each person not only reflects God, but is the expression of God's creative work and the meaning of Christ's redemptive ministry." (U.S. Bishops, 1983)

II. Comprehending the Real Meaning within these Social 'Principles'

The very essence of the meaning which gives definition to each of these categories is based on one very specific statement of Jesus Christ when he commands that his children are to "love their neighbor as they love themselves" which is the 'golden rule' and the statement in which Jesus Christ states that the greatest commandment of all is to "Love ye, one another..." (Holy Bible, New Testament) This specific category is critical in the social teachings of the Catholic Church and in fact stated is that."..the transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all." (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 1979) an example brought to mind the account of Jesus healing on the Sabbath and assisting men with removing their oxen from a ditch on the Sabbath as well. While there are those in the crowd who taunt him about breaking the Jewish law of not laboring on the Sabbath Jesus relates to the crowd that certainly the needs of his fellow man stand higher than even the primary 'ten commandments of God, the Father. Therefore, the teaching is one of collaboration, flexible ministry in a growing and changing world. The church is effectively rendered helpless to 'go yet into the world..." And to "make ye disciples of all men..." which is called the "Great Commission" and commanded by Christ if they do not have genuine love for their fellow man because to go into that world at this time in the history of mankind is a prospect filled with the unknown in terms of both physical and spiritual safety. Therefore the church must remember to convey to followers that the only set and fixed law might be viewed as a simple reflection by humankind of the love which 'is' God. This task has been "entrusted to the Christian community..." And therein God's love either finds root and grows or falls by the way. This is called the 'Great Commission' within the Christian faith and is a process described as."..a quest for the seeds of truth and freedom sown in the vast field of humanity." (Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, 11: AAS 71, 1979) the primary social teaching of the Christian faith and the Catholic Church social teachings are principles, which have as their basis very words of Christ who has revealed to humankind that the very essence or character of God is 'Love'. (1 John 4:8) as he brings his children to the understanding that "the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently the transformation of the world is the new commandment of love." (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004)

Examples of these social teachings in action can be seen in the activities of the disciples of Jesus as they work with him to serve the needs of those in life daily and while attending to physical needs nurturing the spiritual dimension of the individuals that they met. (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004) Stated in the 'reflections' of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in the work entitled: "Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions" is the that the focus of the Catholic church at this time in relation to its' 'social teachings' is to teach those in the church the real meaning behind each principle and to bring followers to an understanding that central to the identity of the Catholic is "that we are called to be leaven transforming the world, agents for bringing about a kingdom of love and justice." (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004) in the global culture which is stated to be "driven by excessive individualism" the Catholic tradition is one that the person is social and that the organization of society relating to economics and politics in terms of "law and policy" has a direct affect on the."..human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in a community." (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2004) Furthermore, there are inherent 'rights' and 'responsibilities' and the dignity of humankind is protected by every family, and social institution taking an active role in the community responsibilities. The poor and vulnerable are given special consideration within the frameworks of these beliefs rooted in love, decency, and respect to all with the focus being the common good of all. Stewardship of the earth is also taught be the Catholic church and as stated in Proverbs 29:18 "Without a vision the people perish." This mission is stated to be one that is: "...not a new mission" and in fact has been one that was set out over two thousand years ago when "...Jesus in his hometown synagogue read the words from Isaiah that outlined his work on earth, as well as the Church's mission through the centuries and special tasks of Catholic educators and catechists today: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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