Browsing Amen Corner

Amen Corner - February 13, 2022

Written by Kathy Kuczka


My friend Trevor employs Rosa, a woman from El Salvador, to clean his apartment. Each time she comes to clean Trevor’s place, he goes out to get lunch for Rosa and for himself. Though she hates to take a break, Trevor encourages Rosa to sit and eat with him before continuing on with her tasks. As a result, Trevor and Rosa have gotten to know each other in a way that may not have happened if he didn’t buy lunch and if they didn’t eat together. By performing these simple acts and without knowing it, Trevor is practicing Catholic social teaching. By paying Rosa a just wage, he recognizes the dignity of her work. By buying her lunch and by inviting her to eat with him he shows that he respects her and is in solidarity with her. All of these elements, showing respect for human beings, honoring the dignity of work, and being in solidarity have long been part of Catholic social doctrine, which some call the Church’s best-kept secret.


What is the Church’s social teaching?

The social teaching of the Church instructs the faithful on how to live the teachings of Christ amidst the challenges of a changing society. Rooted in Scripture, these teachings have been shaped by Popes, Bishops and Church Councils to correspond to the needs of the time.


The seeds of Catholic social teaching were planted by Pope Leo XIII in his 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which means new things. Rerum Novarum addressed social and economic issues at a time when the industrial revolution and sweeping political changes created a widening gap between the wealthy and the working poor. Rerum Novarum affirmed the dignity of the poor, and a worker’s right to just wages, the right to form trade unions, and the right to own property. The Pope offered a new structure to guide relationships between workers and employers, governments and citizens, saying the primary purpose of the state was to provide for the common good.


Several themes in Rerum Novarum helped form today’s social teaching.


Life and Dignity of the Human Person


God created man and woman in his imageGenesis 1:26-31    


The foundation of all Church social teaching is the understanding that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and is therefore sacred. This fundamental belief, the Church says, is the basis for a moral society:


“Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal  with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the  presence of something holy and sacred.”(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 28)


Anything that insults human dignity—from abortion to capital punishment to social and economic disparities--is contrary to Catholic social teaching and to the Gospel.




Call to Family, Community and Participation


What you own belongs to the  Lord and is given for the good of all. Leviticus 25:23-42


Humans are social beings who depend on one another in good times and in bad times. The human community has a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and the well-being of all. At the heart of the community is the family.


“Efficiency and competition in the marketplace  must be moderated by greater concern for the way work schedules and compensation support or threaten the bonds between spouses and between parents  and children.” (USCCB, Economic Justice for Allno. 93)


The family, the domestic church, is a sign of unity and gives witness to the Gospel by participating in human institutions for the betterment of society.


In next week’s bulletin, we conclude this blog on the key themes of the social teaching of the Catholic Church.


There are no comments yet - be the first one to comment: