Drama as Literature (EL 250)


7 Sep 2005

Byron, William J. ''Ten building blocks of Catholic Social Teaching''

By including Catholic social teaching among the essentials of the faith, the bishops are affirming the existence of credenda (things to be believed) that become, in the believer, a basis for the agenda (things to be done) the believer must follow. Thus Catholic social action flows from Catholic social doctrine. How to bring the social portion of the doctrine of the faith to the attention of believers is the challenge the bishops have now put once again before Catholic pastors and educators at every level.
Byron, William J. ''Ten building blocks of Catholic Social Teaching.'' America 31 Oct, 1998.

While communities, nations, and faiths may not always agree on the credenda, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching suggest that as human beings we all have much in common where it comes to the agenda. What are some elements of Catholic Social Teaching that surprised you? Are there any that you find particularly affirming or challenging?

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"How to bring the social portion of the doctrine of the faith to the attention of believers is the challenge the bishops have now put once again before Catholic pastors and educators at every level."

(This explains why we students at Seton Hill are being barraged with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching...)

"Principles, once internalized...prompt activity, impel motion, direct choices."

This document, like Jacko's introduction to CST, influences Catholics' political opinions. The bishops, "by including CST among the essentials of the faith…are affirming the existence of credenda (things to be believed)." The principles they espouse inevitably lead to certain political standpoints. For example, they dictate adherence to Pro-life ideals (Principle of Respect for Human Life) and other conservative views, such as limited government (Principle of Subsidiarity).
This idea about the Principle of Subsidiarity has been argued in past discussions of CST, but it is undeniable that this principle "puts a proper limit on government." This is not to say that it is forcing Republicanism, but it clearly states its belief that, "overactive governments frequently violate [its] principle." It is also ironic that Catholic bishops idealize this principle, when the Catholic hierarchical system has played a very active role in government, both inside the church and out.


Posted by: David Denninger at September 2, 2005 07:34 PM

CST also argues strongly *against* the death penalty, *for* healthcare and welfare for the sick and the displaced, etc -- and all of that is part of respecting human life. When you consider that CST is written for the whole world, it's easier to see that the Republican/Democrat debates are friendly disagreements, as compared to, say, governments that mount genocidal attacks against ethnic subgroups, governments that support or harbor terrorism, and governments that dictate what religions are legal, whether citizens can leave the country, what jobs women can or cannot hold, or what newspapers are permitted to print. CST argues clearly for limitations against *that* sort of government, but it also affirms that, when the people are not able, on their own, to create a just society, the government has an obligation to step in.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 3, 2005 07:52 AM

Touche'
Once you step back and look at it as a means to achieve global good, it serves it's purpose well. In countries experiencing mass moral degradation, this kind of structure could provide some standard for living.

Having said that, I still think that within this country it affects the balance of liberalism and conservatism.

Posted by: David Denninger at September 3, 2005 08:20 AM

Very true. Catholics in the US used to vote Democrat because most were working-class immigrants, and the Democrats were the part of labor and the underclass. Now, many Catholic families have become more prosperous, and many are concerned about some of the family and philosophical issues that draw other Christians to the Republican party. And, of course, many immigrants from Mexcico are bringing their Catholic faith with them. So Catholics don't vote as a block, either Republican or Democrat -- they are a swing group.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 3, 2005 08:27 AM

"[O]ur tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society--in economics and politics, in law and policy--directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community" (Reflections, p. 4).

I find this statement interesting because as a Protestant, I know our pastors are not allowed to preach sermons about whom to vote for - or for whom not to vote for. How does that work in the Catholic church?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 6, 2005 12:13 AM

I was interested more in the CST in this essay then in the other one. I feel that Byron put them in kind of easier terms then the woman who wrote them before stated them. It caught me on a different level to because i really have nothing to disagree on.

Posted by: Rachel Prichard at September 6, 2005 01:08 PM

"PRINCIPLES, ONCE INTERNALIZED, lead to something. They prompt activity, impel motion, direct choices. A principled person always has a place to stand, knows where he or she is coming from and likely to end up. Principles always lead the person who possesses them somewhere, for some purpose, to do something, or choose not to."

I like this quote. It's like the saying, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." If you aren't educated in politics and you aren't aware of what's happening in the world today, would you make a good voter? Probably not. Same goes for making decisions in life. If you don't understand and apply these basic principles, you're not going to make the right decisions.

Posted by: Chera Pupi at September 6, 2005 04:54 PM

In response to Katie's comment, our preists can preach whatever they want, yet they usually don't. However, my history teacher told us last year, that alot of times, a certain political party will offer churches huge tax breaks to go one way or the other, and they sometimes offer breaks just to say nothing at all.

Posted by: Chera Pupi at September 6, 2005 04:56 PM

"Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God's creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative"

It seems as if the Catholic church teaches that without work one does not have dignity. I feel that working does indeed provide dignity for that individual, however it also builds one's pride. It seems that people who are proud tend to not see God as above them and they feel that they control their own lives and God has nothing to do with it. I'm not saying not to work because it makes you proud. I am saying that sometimes earthly ambitions can blind people from stepping outside the box and looking at the big picture. If the Catholic church teaches Paricipation in Society, than I feel that they should also teach us to not let our pride and our feeling that we are successful on our own without God's help, get in the way of our humbleness to him.

Posted by: Andy LoNigro at September 6, 2005 11:00 PM

I agree with Prof. Jerz and what he said in response to David about how the CST principles tend to support both liberal and conservative ideals...and while I agree with certain parts (like the limited gov. and respect and equality for humans) especially in the most general terms, there are a few parts that I do not agree with (such as "preferential protection for the poor"). Yet, I have to say that I think David hit the nail on the head when he said: "Once you step back and look at it as a means to achieve global good, it serves its purpose well." I think that as a basis for moral understanding these principles are a great way to start.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at September 7, 2005 12:02 AM
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