Updated: Sep 20, 2018
A major part of the Catholic identity for me is the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching. In my mind, they aren’t talked about nearly enough for how important they are for our communities. I’ll be going through each of the seven, but I have to put a disclaimer out there. I’m not a theologian. I don’t represent any authority of the Catholic church. I’m only listing the seven principles and then speaking to what they mean to me as a Catholic. These are purely personal views, just like anything else I post on this blog.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
For me the important word here is dignity. We can all agree on the importance of life and respecting life, save abortion arguments, and this platform doesn’t lend itself to have such a discussion in a healthy way. So I won’t. But like I said, the important word here is dignity. Human persons are valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. As Catholics, we should be living with a basic principle of respect. It’s nice to feel valued, right? Think of the impact if every person felt valued. It’d be a major improvement. Obviously, it’s not the only thing that needs to be done for the world, but it’s a start.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The word participation here is really important to me. It’s one thing to be a part of a community and feel connected to it. But you have to participate. You can’t be an apathetic Catholic. We’re called to be active in our communities in helpful, positive ways. Serving our community doesn't just include building a family, but meeting its other needs as well. Speaking for my personal communities, there’s a lot of need out there. Even beyond our small communities, the world at large has a lot of need. Nothing’s gonna get done if we don’t participate.
Rights and Responsibilities
Each person has rights, and we have a responsibility to upkeep those rights. We have a responsibility also to lookout for the rights of others, and to speak out and advocate for those whose rights are being taken away or disrespected. This extends not just locally, but globally, as all of these principles should.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
As a society, we have responsibilities to make sure that the poor and vulnerable populations are lifted up out of negative circumstances. This can be done both on the individual and institutional level. Personally, this is a big one for me. It reflects on us as a society how those who are most vulnerable are faring. Are we creating vulnerable populations as a society that don’t need to be “vulnerable”? How can we reduce the amount of groups that need that kind of label? These are important questions to answer in my mind.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The Catholic church holds a firm belief that the economy should serve people and not vice versa. Workers are not expendable, they’re people, and they have dignity and rights. Catholics should care about the way workers are being treated, even outside of their own workplace. We have a moral responsibility to get rid of unfair and unsafe working environments.
We are a global community of humanity. It doesn’t matter what are racial, national, or ideological background is. When one of us are wronged we are all wronged. In response to such instances we need to stand together. This one goes into many of the other themes. We can’t just look at our in-group as the ones worthy of any of these principles. They apply to all of humanity, there generally isn’t anybody excluded. Although, if you ask me, a Nazi isn’t worthy of dignity. Call me biased, but I’m not about to change my mind about that anytime soon.
Care for God's Creation
This is one that’s extremely important for our time. We’re all environmental stewards. This world we’ve inherited is beautiful. But we have to defend it from ourselves. We need to care for this environment. For ourselves, and for our future generations. If you ever happen to get a chance, go up to the top of a scenic mountain overlook and look out at the world around us. It’s a spiritual kind of moment. It’s a beautiful place, and we need to care for it or it might get seriously damaged. This is another principle of Catholic Social Teaching that requires participation.
These are the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. If you ask me, they’re really important to my identity as a Catholic and as a member of my community. Hopefully, you can also see the value in some of these core themes, and they help guide you to becoming more involved in a world that needs it.
I know it’s back to school season for a lot of us Marist Youth folks. Hopefully it’s treating you well and you’re having a nice, smooth transition back into the swing of things. Or for some, into college for the first time. Just remember to reach out to somebody for support if you need it, seriously. It can help make things go a lot better. Something something that one High School Musical song something something something.