Catholic Social Teaching: A Primer

As the political season heats up, all the rhetoric surrounding elections can leave the average Catholic a bit overwhelmed–maybe even confused. How should our faith inform our citizenship? The USCCB has amassed a collection of short podcasts on various aspects of Catholic social teachings that are a great starting point for those looking for a firmer foundation. Subjects ranging from activism to government to environmentalism are included in the topic list. And if these brief ┬ápodcasts stir you to action, let your feet hit the pavement for the June 8 Rally for Religious Freedom. Check here for local times and locations.

15 responses

  1. We are to look after the needs of the poor by helping them from suffering from WANT (WANT OF WHAT EXACTLY – MORE STUFF?), feeding the hungry, aid to help and develop themselves. The poor and vulnerable in my section of America have nicer clothes than I do, many are over weight, have flat screen t.v. sets and cell phones, etc. They appear to be doing very well. It is a proven fact that the government only helps the poor to look for more hand outs to get more money and stuff. The private sector helps the poor by providing them with more products, services, and jobs that help them develop themselves to value the virtue of honest work. This is where our obligation to the poor comes into play. It is directly linked to the proper balance between the tax base and government control. A preferential option to the poor is not a “nice and optional thing to do with our surplus” (which is the amount that remains when use or need is satisfied). EXACTLY TO WHOSE SATISFACTION ARE WE REFERRING? How can families give everything they’ve worked for away to poor people – when they are not around? What would happen to our own families – we would become the poor then. I would love to know a real poor American family so that I can help them myself. Nobody else needs to tell me how to help them because I honor the ways of the Lord. I do not know where to find them and the local parish does not seem to be able to assist me. Why doesn’t the Church help families like mine find other poor families that need help? The Church can provide guidance on this, not the government which is a total fiasco! I’m sure many Catholics would love to help these poor people and families who need it. I can even help Catechize children. Look to the gifts and talents of laity because the government’s gifts and talents do not appear to promote virtue in our society. This is an area many protestants capitalize on. Capitalism is a benefit that outweighs the destruction of over bearing government control. Any weaknesses in the system can be corrected without turning to a Totalitarian government who wants the poor to depend on them.

  2. On Peace and Disarmament: “Peace is not brought about by dictatorship” If the Church has taken a stand that all wars have been unjust in the past 60 years, can you specify how you would have handled the Nazi dictatorship? I know many parts of the war have been unjust. Nevertheless, to make this claim it seems that you may have come to the conclusion that a more effective approach to this unjust regime could have been played out. Correct me if I am mistaken.

  3. Political Participation: “Economic Development must remain under the people’s control…with the largest number of people to have an active role to participate in their own governance.” Does this justify the actions of those who disrespect our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights along with the destruction of the necessary and effective balance between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of our government because they ADD TO THIS LARGEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE? Just curious and trying to learn.

  4. Role of Government: This is where we serious lack leadership. Americans choose the individuals to represent them. We have many leaders that settle for giving up moral principles or appeasement to bizarre ways in return for more money and votes. Where can we find more good leaders? We get stuck with voting for the better of two evils or whatever. I greatly admire the Principle of Subsidiarity. But our leaders are fooling us…some out right lie to us. What are we to do?

  5. On Social Justice: We are obligated to care for the poor and it is good to do all these things: 1) Hand someone a dollar when begging in the street, 2) Write a check to a homeless shelter, 3) and let this affect the way we vote. I’m sorry – but I can not hand some stranger a dollar on the street. I fear for my safety when it comes to this as I was assaulted in a woman’s restroom. I once gave a woman with children $20.00 along with my phone number so that I could continue to help her (not only financially but in other ways too). When we communicated over the phone, it was difficult to understand her because of her accent. I wanted to know her better and her situation better before I just threw more money at the situation. It didn’t work out tho because of the language barrier that existed. It does not mean one is a communist if they ask, “Why is this poor person – poor?” It means taking an intelligent and loving look at their situation. It involves more than money but an actual respect for their individual lives and dignity as children of God. It is looking at the ‘big picture’. Justice does involve “the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of equity.” (Webster) Why do our leaders have to be the one’s to always tell us what is equitable? We are smart enough to know ourselves too. Writing a check can be a good thing – but it is so impersonal. Now a days one can never trust exactly where there money is going. Who can we trust anymore more than ourselves? As to letting helping the poor affect our voting, both parties help the poor but in profoundly different ways. Which one leads society toward this communism Dorothy Day spoke of? As for ‘unbridled capitalism,’ it does not give up the greatest good for the greatest number of people like communism does.

  6. On Stewardship of Creation: I think everyone respects the environment, whether dem or rep. It is odd to me though how you say, “expedite its application.” Nature is nature and we should let it be as God has designed it. Respecting the environment involves leaving it alone. Humans can not control the weather or climate, no matter how bad one wants to. One can study and predict it. It is what it is and nothing else. It does involve eliminating too many things that may hurt the environment – but not to the point that it stifles necessary benefits for citizens.

  7. On the Common Good: How can average citizens better determine which entities ethically, morally, and honorably reflect the relationships – we ourselves – want to have with other people and other nations? It is good to have cooperative relations to promote the common good. I know, from God, what is good. But – just because it is common (widespread, general) does not mean that it is good anymore. You have said there exists modern philosophies or political systems that have claimed that there is no common good. It would be good to know which ones you are referring to for the benefit of the common good. “Catholic Social teaching has evolved over centuries of reflections…” on the dignity of the human person. I hope you have also considered the centuries of facts showing the destruction of human dignity from the indoctrination of past failed philosophies too.

  8. Correction on Peace and Disarmament: If your statement takes us back 60 years – it brings us to 1950 or so. Therefore, it doesn’t include WWI and WWII. Right? Trying to do the math – sorry my mistake. Your statements in this podcast just make me ask more questions. I have to take a break before I make myself sick. Just kidding.

  9. “Economic systems should serve people – not the other way around.” Public union membership does not serve people ethically because its ultimate goal is to serve the Democratic Party. The right to productive work thru the private sector will serve citizens while the public sector now serves a Totalitarian government (Someone very close to me works for EPA and much of it is a joke – fosters laziness). Fair wages and safe working conditions can be established through intelligent (as opposed to wasteful) legislative directives which will build up our tax base.

    The government can not function without a strong tax base either – you should realize that we need a proper balance between the host organism and the government to effectively serve people. The government is so big now that it is (and appears to be its goal) sucking the life out of the private sector.

    You have said, “Marxism failed and Communism has fallen” but Socialism is defined as a “stage of society in MARXIST THEORY transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of good and pay according to work done.” (Webster) Why would one want to help this transition to attain a communist society?

    We have seen that our “economic (debt which stifles growth and creativity), religious (1st Amendment), and ethical (Americas Constitution and Bill of Rights enhances ethical practices)freedoms are being denied with the Democratic leadership.

    In this current election, allegiance to conservative principles more prevalent in the Republican party meet the rights, responsibilities, and legitimate needs of people much more effectively than the Democratic approach which only will divide the Union by forcing members to be loyal to their party rather than loyal to their country.

    The Dems really aren’t true Americans and are leading us toward this communism/marxist philosophy. Their leadership has shown a desire to disrespect American traditions that weaken our sovereignty and make us vulnerable to enemies.

    In fact, it is the private sector who has brought more jobs and business to foreign nations – helping and loving neighbors and the poor. Why would we want to destroy the private sector and disregard our Founding Fathers directives?

    The Republicans efforts will better unite the Union as Our Lord has said in the bible “May they all be one as we are one.”

  10. On Global Solidarity and Development: The practice of forming ideals to enhance global solidarity and development does not mean we can ignore or change important historical, realistic, and faith-based facts that have fostered “moral and social virtues” for a great many people. America has been a leader in pursuit of the “common good to work toward” efforts which “transcend national and global boundaries from certain efforts of both political parties. It is time we realize that the party which supports the basic ideals of capitalism today brings the world closer to rely on “THE NECESSARY HELP OF DIVINE GRACE” where all men and women (not just governments) will be able to participate in molding a more virtuous, moral, and ethically sound humanity.

    For years now, the world has ran after the wealth in America to the point that it has reached an unbearable and dangerous level to our country financially, politically, and morally. Many continue to divide our Union by disrespecting the documents of our Founding Fathers and some even out right lie about historical realities that have shaped American citizens with a hearty patriotism.

    America is suffering for the common good just as our Lord suffered for our salvation. The blows to her integrity are getting grossly out of control. Many in America are now enduring injuries to our authentic Christian and patriotic heritage with patience and without severe resentment. Their example and supreme model being the meekness of Jesus. It is obvious that there exists many from the Democratic party that do resent America and her diversity. The true desires of their hearts have been revealed publicly and through destructive legislation. Their efforts divide the Union we’ve tried so hard to bring together for the common good. They mandate loyalty to their party rather than encourage loyalty to their country. How can America’s efforts continue to transcend national and global boundaries if we are divided internally or continue to be severely weakened?

    Even some of our military goals attempt to restore and build up foreign societies so that they can function on their own. This is the beneficial practice of our military that should be harnessed in the future. This is in direct opposition to some nations whose goal is to ‘take over’ control of other peaceful nations through imperialistic efforts and/or out right destruction for selfish reasons.

    “The more closely the world comes together, the more widely peoples obligations transcend particular groups and extend to the whole world.” It would be ‘ideal’ to lean more heavily toward capitalism than socialism which only leads to communism/Marxism. These philosophies are hostile toward Christianity. The obligations of people under a capitalistic society put the needs of citizens/customers first while fostering ingenuity, creativity, and autonomy to meet those needs. Ethical business practices give so much to the world: products, services, honest work, and a giving mentality for all citizens. This is when the government doesn’t overpower businesses with wasteful and overbearing legislation. There needs to be a delicate balance between the government and the tax base.

    It is the private sector that has shown the ability to provide jobs and opportunities to other nations. It is evident though that we need to keep investment in our own country strong too in order to make a viable contribution to the world. It is sad that the Democratic party is opposed to this because of their refusal to help the private sector.

    What other nation wants some foreign government to tell them what to do – no matter their principles? None. God is the master and author of global realities or Creation. Their will never be one human leader over all the earth but God. When our Democratic leaders reach out to foreign nations, their goals are to weaken America and her faith-based and patriotic ideals. The private sector has the better ability to bring our Christian ethos of putting the needs of others/customers first through ethical, hands on, business practices that promote the dignity of work for all citizens. The Democratic party – in bed with the public sector – has shown hostility and/or ignorance toward the beneficial areas of capitalism that promote financially sound and virtuous business practices that give individuals and groups the ability and freedom to apply them to social living as they see fit. Heaven for bid if we depend on the government to limit our gifts, talents, abilities, and freedoms that enhance social living.

  11. On Individual Rights: This is so easy but we complicate it through our human weaknesses. God’s revelation and our human condition help us to determine the proper balance of rights and responsibilities.

    I witnessed part of the USCCB’s gathering on EWTN yesterday and one of the speakers is RIGHT ON. He said, “Our rights come before our freedoms…not Our freedoms before our rights.” God is the author of all life and He has told us what is GOOD. We have rights to this God-given GOODNESS not freedoms to determine what is good.

    The Democratic Party wants God removed from the picture so that they can have the freedoms to do bizarre things and make bizarre, wasteful, and burdensome legislation. This has got to be stopped because their efforts ignore and oppress the sublime dignity of the human person. If this continues, their desires to create more freedoms that ignore what is GOOD will leave us with NO freedoms at all. We will be slaves or prisoners under their unjust mandates to obey – or else. This just makes me feel so sick!

    You have said, “Without these responsibilities, human rights can easily become a competition for scarce resources.” This is so true. Are we competing for responsibilities or are we competing for resources? I say, the Republican party fosters a healthy competition for all citizens to accept and grow in their responsibilities. The Democratic party doesn’t really have any responsibilities – except to themselves. Probably to collect all the money they can and take all the resources they can away from America. Very Strange indeed!

    The human condition of the Democratic Party is seriously lacking in virtue and true wisdom. They need to learn and they won’t listen. It is their way or no way. One can see the intelligence in the Republican party by the innovation, intelligence, diversity, and civil discourse among all the candidates we had to choose from in the political debates. The Dems worship one person that, unfortunately, is not qualified, capable, or deserving of his position. (This does not mean I’m racist or disrespect his human dignity as a person or child of God.)

    One thing I don’t understand the bishops position on is universal healthcare. You believe this is a right. Are their situations that have occurred where the poor have been denied access to healthcare in our current system? How can you trust the massive healthcare legislation that was passed by Obama in the unethical process of ‘ramming it through congress’ without discussion, respect, and careful consideration? Can someone please explain your opinions on this? Thank you!

  12. One question to think about: Is our right to take care of the sick or is our right to be treated if we are sick. What was GOOD in the Good Samaritan was the fact that he cared for and treated the injured man. When diseases are cured in scripture, it is shown through the miracles of Christ not human effort. Or am I mistaken? Just something to think about – like we really need it.

  13. CCC 2425 – The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with “communism” or “socialism.” As soon as our Religious Liberty stops: 1)Personal Choice (conscience) and 2)Private Property rights are taken away. If this is an issue between democracy and socialism, too many in the democratic party are OPEN to this socialism.

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