Peace and justice groups often get stuck when trying to come to consensus on which specific social sin their parish should address. Racism, sexism, classism, and threats to the environment are all worthy starting points for groups to begin working toward creating more just relationships in their communities. But where to start?
Caritas In Veritate (Benedict XVI, 2009) assists peace and justice groups in this crucial discernment process. What follows are just two principles from Caritas In Veritate which guide concerned parishioners as they consider the particular needs of their community:
- Pope Benedict states that while social communication provides increased opportunities for neighborliness (i.e., on-line and text donations after natural disasters), we have yet to establish fraternity (truth in charity) within the context of our social relations. ‘Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived…Without truth, charity denigrates into sentimentality.’
- Integral human development, (Populorum Progressio, 1967) remains as the core strategy for governments and societies as they distribute justice to citizens. Globalization, with its emphasis on economic relations, presents distinctive and detailed challenges for integral human development.
Locally here in Chicago, I am amazed as I witness the incredible passion, zeal and enthusiasm of youth and young adults as they integrate the principles of Catholic social teaching into their lives. Service trips, advocacy work on behalf of immigrants, the unborn, and volunteering at homeless shelters and soup kitchens represent just a few ways young people are making a difference in our Archdiocese. These types of experiences are central in the shaping and forming of religious identities of youth today.
As program director for justice education my hope is founded on parish life, where youth can partner with adults to inspire the entire community to imagine and discover new ways to live more integral lives. The parish is the place where we reflect on, judge and act upon the principles of Catholic social teaching (common good, subsidiarity, solidarity and dignity of the human person). Prior to accepting my new position, I was privileged to serve as youth ministry coordinator for four years.
If your parish is interested in strategizing on creative ways to couple the inspiring enthusiasm of the youth with the wisdom of adults in social justice ministry, please feel free to contact me at 312 534 3890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.