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Catholic Social Teaching Major Themes
1. Life and dignity of the human person – All people are holy, made in the image of God.
2. Call to family, community and participation – People are both holy and social; when one suffers, we all suffer.
3. Rights and responsibilities – People have a basic right to life, food, shelter, health care, education and work.
4. Option for the poor and vulnerable – The “Jesus” test of a community (of society) is how it treats its neediest members.
5. Dignity of work and the rights of workers – Money, work and business exist to serve people, not the other way around.
6. Solidarity – We want justice for all people.
7. Care for God’s creation – The environment is God’s sacred creation.
Consistent Life Ethic
St. Francis Parish seeks to be consistently Catholic in this world which is torn by political divisions. The pro-life issues at every stage of human life. A series of six full page Forum articles highlight the pro-life issues at every stage of human life. Articles were published January -March 2017. See https://www.stfrancisa2.com/life/
Lessons From Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’ “
Reaching Out to the Stranger
We are all familiar with the verse in Matthew that states: “I was…a stranger and you welcomed me…” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” in Luke. These readings, like others in the New Testament, leave no doubt as to the importance that
Jesus placed on helping the stranger who is in need.
During this year that is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we are reminded of the many ways that he as well as other members of the Civil Rights Movement reached out to those in need even though they may have been strangers. But these examples do not stand alone. All through human history, men and women have reached out to help those who are in need. Sometimes they faced great risk to themselves because of their actions. (Just as the Good Samaritan, a foreigner, may have said to himself, upon seeing the victim of robbers on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” The priest and the Levite may have thought when they passed by without rendering assistance: “What harm may come to me if I stop to give assistance?”)
Some examples in our recent history involving reaching out to help the stranger:
- Paul Gruninger of the Swiss police (who was stationed near the Austrian border in 1938 / 1939) approved special identity papers which kept hundreds of Jews who were listed as “illegal refugees” from Germany and Austria from being deported back to their home countries and the threat of concentration / extermination camps.
- During the ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Anica Zecar, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s who hid Muslims, Croats, and Kosovars in her apartment to prevent them from being “ethnically cleansed” would say “no” to Serbian soldiers who knocked on her door asking if there were any Muslims or Croats
- Les Binns, at his own risk, abandoned his own summit attempt of Mount Everest in order to try to rescue two mountain climbers (who were total strangers to him) who had collapsed near Everest’s summit in the severe cold and blinding winds of the oxygen-depleted region called the “death zone”.
While these examples may seem to us to be beyond the capability of the average person, maybe what is intended in Matthew and Luke is for us to:
See the image of God in each person that we meet.
Steps that we may want to consider taking as we go about our daily life:
- Reach beyond our normal area of “comfort” by meeting / interacting with new people (such as the vendor of the Groundcover newspaper).
- Treat everyone with equal kindness; make real friends with the poor.
- Learn about organizations that are new to us such as Peace Neighborhood or volunteer at Food Gatherers.
- Address racism / racial bias when we encounter it.
- Reach out to refugees who are escaping wars/conflicts, droughts, and famines.
St. Francis of Assisi Life, Peace & Justice Committee
Social Justice and the Civil Rights Movement
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only LIGHT can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only LOVE can do that.”
On the third Monday of each January, Martin Luther King Day celebrates the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Who was Dr. King and why (and how) did he become involved with social justice and civil rights? It may be helpful to see how and by whom he was influenced during his formative years.
Although our Declaration of Independence includes the hallowed phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, many men, women, and children were cruelly imprisoned in a system of Slavery. Slavery had existed in the Americas long before the American Revolution and continued until the end of the Civil War. It impacted not only those whose ancestors came on slave ships from Africa but also (in its early stages) Native Americans. Slavery’s motivation was Cheap labor and Profits for the slave Owners. Those who were enslaved were seen as lesser human beings.
Sadly, even after the end of Slavery in the United States, African-Americans were treated as third-class citizens. Segregation, Jim Crow Laws, and racial lynchings made a mockery of the assertion that “all men are created equal”.
In the nightmare that African-Americans faced, the Black churches (along with many white congregations) worked to abolish Jim Crow laws and address the racial culture that permeated our society.
Dr. King was one of many* who worked for change to this system. (* E.g., W.E.B. DuBois, Mordecai Johnson, Patti Murray, to name just a few.) Besides being influenced by the Black social justice ministers of the 1930’s and 1940’s, he, like them, was heavily impacted by the actions, philosophy, and non-violent approach of Mohandas Gandhi against British Colonialism in India. These influences coupled with his education at Morehouse College, Crozier Seminary, and Boston University provided him with a broad perspective as to how to mobilize both the religious and political communities to effect change that might provide the impetus for a more just society.
(Note: There will be additional follow-up articles that will discuss various aspects of racism / discrimination in America, the relationship of the Civil Rights Movement and Catholic Social Teaching, as well as actions that Parishioners may consider to address racism today.)
(For those Parishioners who are interested in learning more about Dr. King’s views and philosophical approach, it is suggested that one google some of his sermons, speeches, and letters – such as “Loving Your Enemies”, “Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March”, and “Eulogy for the Martyred Children”. Alternatively, the Parish Life, Peace & Justice Committee can provide one-page summaries of these and many other of Dr. King’s writings / speeches.)
St. Francis of Assisi Parish Life, Peace & Justice Committee
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