“The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Modern Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. The depth and richness of this tradition can be understood best through a direct reading of these documents.”– US Conference of Catholic Bishops
At St. Joseph Parish, any effort of charity or for justice will pass through the filter of the Church’s social doctrine, and will feature an integral human development approach.
This teaching has its roots in the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and most notably in the wisdom teachings and actions of Jesus himself, who told his followers in Matthew’s Gospel that they would be judged by what they do for the least among them.
Not long after the founding of St. Joseph Parish in 1876, Pope Leo XIII in 1891 penned the first encyclical on social teaching —Rerum Novarum, or “On the Condition of Labor.” Subsequent popes, from John XXIII on through Pope Francis and his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, have furthered the wisdom, and along with other Catholic leaders they have created a rich wellspring that shows how our faith in God can inspire us to serve those around us.
Here is an overview of the seven basic themes of this teaching:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- The Call to Family, Community and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- The Dignity and Rights of Workers
- Care for Creation
“In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia. What reigns instead is a cool, comfortable and globalized indifference, born of deep disillusionment concealed behind a deceptive illusion: thinking that we are all-powerful, while failing to realize that we are all in the same boat. This illusion, unmindful of the great fraternal values, leads to “a sort of cynicism. For that is the temptation we face if we go down the road of disenchantment and disappointment… Isolation and withdrawal into one’s own interests are never the way to restore hope and bring about renewal. Rather, it is closeness; it is the culture of encounter. Isolation, no; closeness, yes. Culture clash, no; culture of encounter, yes”.”– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 2020, #30