Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith.
Those words from the U.S. bishops on Catholic social teaching should resonate with each one of us.
As a people of faith, the roots of the social teaching of the Church lie in the Hebrew prophets, who announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice. Jesus Christ identified Himself with “the least of these,” the hungry and the stranger (Matthew 25:45).
Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. Our commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist. “To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, His brethren” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1397).
“Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity,” the bishops wrote. “Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity.”
This week’s edition highlights several stories of the Church’s social teaching in action. Jared Bryson, who will assume the role of president at Catholic Charities of St. Louis next month, said the work of Catholic Charities and its eight federated agencies is part of the Church’s evangelizing mission.
“We don’t do charity because it’s a nice thing to do” Bryson said. “We do charity because at it’s core, ‘caritas,’ love — love is who God is. And because of who we are, and what we do, day after day, going to Mass and through the work of our communities, we’re growing greater in love. So we can’t help but do this, but take care of the poor.”
A story about Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service’s new mobile food pantry highlights the organization’s ongoing mission to serve people living in St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties who are in crisis and prevent homelessness and hunger. The mobile food pantry is an opportunity to meet people where they’re at and possibly help address some of the underlying needs to help them out of poverty.
“If we can bring this out and help and ease their budget, because their money is going to pay for the hotel, then that’s what we’re here to do,” said Michelle Ritter, food pantry program supervisor. “The goal is to try to connect them to resources.”
We live in a society that seems to be decreasing its respect for human life and human dignity. Injustice and moral confusion are all around us. Lives are destroyed before birth by abortion. Poverty affects a sizeable portion of our population. Violence destroys hopes and dreams.
All of us have a role in continuing the social mission of the Church to help others in need. We must take up this challenge with renewed commitment, creativity and urgency — and most of all with a sense of love for our neighbor.