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Catholic Social Justice 101
me | vanity

Posted on 03/13/2013 5:18:57 PM PDT by bamabound

Several years ago a good friend came to me about joining in our parish's social justice program. He prefaced it by saying'it ain't what you think'.

I am extremely anger with the high jacking of our language and the communist/socialist use of the term 'social justice' is an excuse for implementing totalitarian policies. In reading through several threads, I decided to post this vanity for everyone so maybe we can begin to claim our language back. here is a concise definition: In order to define social justice, let us begin, by taking a look at what social ministry is:

Social Ministry has two main aspects: social service (also known as Parish Outreach) and social action

Social Service is giving direct aid to someone in need. It usually involves performing one or more of the corporal works of mercy. That is, giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, taking care of orphans and widows, visiting the shut-ins etc. Another name for it is charity.

Social Action is correcting the structures that perpetuate the need. Another name for this is Social Justice. Through the lens of social justice, we begin to take a look at the problems and issues facing us in our own communities, the nation and finally the world, and we begin to ask questions such as, "Why is there so much unemployment in our area?" "Why are there so many poor in our community?" "How will the deforestation of our rain forests affect our global climate?" etc. Very often when you are performing social service, you also become involved in solving the problem which created the need in the first place, and the two are closely related and often blend together. An example of this would be, someone comes to your food pantry, and tells you he/she has no food, because he/she lost their job recently. You may know of an employer looking to hire someone right away for a job requiring little or no skills. You give that person food, then place that person in touch with the employer. You then would have solved both problems for that person. (a) the immediate need of food through an act of charity (social service) and (b) you would have corrected the problem which created and perpetuated the need. (social justice)

Copy/paste from

Here is the money quote, again:Social Action, aka social justice is correcting the structures that perpetuate the need.

Here is an excellent description as it pertains to our free society. 2425. "The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with 'communism' or 'socialism.' She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of 'capitalism,' individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.[Cf. CA 10; 13; 44.] Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of SOCIAL bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails SOCIAL JUSTICE, for 'there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.'[CA 34.] Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended."

This quote by John Paul II is a favorite of mine.

1929. "SOCIAL JUSTICE can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him: What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.[John Paul II, SRS 47.] "

And a free society as envisioned by our Founding Fathers provides the best opportunities for the dignity of man.

So, to really participate in creating social justice, we must fix the problems that cause the poverty, homelessness, war.....and it is not done through ANY government entity.

TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: conclave; popefrancis; romancatholicism
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To: Fiji Hill

What about affirmative action? I think that’s a social injustice.

21 posted on 03/13/2013 8:49:03 PM PDT by Patriotic1 (Dic mihi solum facta, domina - Just the facts, ma'am)
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To: bamabound; Viennacon; EBH; livius; bronxville; Mad Dawg; Mrs. Don-o; STJPII; D-fendr; NotTallTex; ..
I am extremely ang[ry] with the high jacking of our language and the communist/socialist use of the term 'social justice' is an excuse for implementing totalitarian policies.
And why wouldn't you be? It is disgusting. The problem is, we have to pick our fights. Especially when the propaganda heights are commanded by the enemy. IMHO the root of your problem is the co-option of the word "society;" if people don't understand that word, how are they to understand "social justice?"

Thomas Paine is not every Christian's cup of tea, but IMHO he is correct in this, which George Washington associated himself with by ordering Common Sense to be read to his troops:

Common Sense

By Thomas Paine
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

Add to that the objection that justice is a different thing from grace or mercy, and that calling grace or mercy (our only pathway to Heaven) "justice" (which, apart from grace and mercy, is our inherited ticket to Hell) is inherently confusing if not actually confused. Freepers
, I beg you to be patient with FReepers
and myself if we ask,
"If it was true in 1776, and is still true today, that most people entirely confound ‘society' and ‘government,' precisely how do you expect to redeem your own intended meaning of the term 'social justice' when there are arguments against your intended meaning which are accepted even by conservatives, and you are up against the headwind of so-called ‘objective' journalism?”
Thomas Sowell can be added to the list of intellectuals who consider actual justice to be in contradistinction with “social,” or any “other kind” of “justice.” I don’t think that Isaiah 5:20 applies to those who think so. I do think that, unfortunately or not, you need to rethink your choice of language in this instance.

Of course if you want to make me be in a similar position to where you are with “social justice," just get me going about “liberalism!” Right up to 1920, “liberalism” meant what you and I now call, quite inaccurately, “conservatism.” Other than in America, it perhaps still does. According to Safire’s New Political Dictionary, the meaning of the word transformed - essentially inverted - in the 1920s. And “conservatism” simply does not do our philosophy justice, yet we have no word that actually means liberalism. The word that used to mean that, now means its very opposite.

22 posted on 03/14/2013 8:26:28 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion


, I beg you to be patient with FReepers

I didn’t realize I was being impatient rather was under the impression it was a discussion on the term Social Justice.

This term encompasses the whole political arena on which road the country is taking - Marxism or Scripture-ism. Yes, Liberalism was also co-opted but it was a clearly delineated meaning word (”gay” is yet another) while on the other hand “social justice” can be two things (Church or Scriptural teaching vs a politically charged buzzword). The two things are blended just enough to cause a calculated confusion.

Here are just a few examples of “social justice” terms and how they are misused:

Human rights and human dignity belong to each and every person by virtue of his being created in the image and likeness of God, and upon the natural law. Marxists now assert that such rights and dignity are determined by the state or the “will of the people.”

Freedom reaches its perfection in seeking what is true and good, which ultimately leads one to God. Marxists now define “freedom” as the license to do whatever one feels like doing (as long as it isn’t illegal), without regard to truth, goodness, or God.

Truth involves correspondence to objective reality. Marxists now claim that “truth” is merely a relative term that can vary from person to person. In the process, they deny objective truth, particularly in the moral realm.

Common good refers to the good of the entire community, as the proper object of a just law, which nonetheless presupposes respect for the individual person (cf. CCC 1907). Marxists now equate the promotion of the common good to the redistribution of wealth, entitlement programs, and an exaggerated deference to the federal government.

Culture of life derives from Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae. While it provides a coherent presentation of the range of life issues, the document hones in on abortion and euthanasia as the key issues of our time. Marxists use “life” or “culture of life” (without meaning anything in particular) to give credence to their position, even as they persist in their permissive position on abortion and other nonnegotiable issues.

Development involves access to the basic necessities of life, especially for the poor. Marxists use “development,” consciously or otherwise, as code for exporting—or even imposing when necessary—American secular values, most notably an anti-natal agenda.

Taken from:

Saul Alinsky was an expert at twisting Catholic Social Justice.

23 posted on 03/14/2013 9:55:42 AM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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To: bamabound

But is “social justice” really something that can be “obtained”? You may be able to get legal justice in a court of law, but “social justice” is like “fairness.” If it has any existence at all it’s an ideal that you may approach but not attain — or just a slogan.

24 posted on 03/14/2013 9:56:07 AM PDT by x
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To: DarrellZero

The Marxists also hijacked the term “liberal”, when in fact, what most consider to be Conservatism is nothing more than “classic liberalism.”

25 posted on 03/14/2013 9:58:37 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion; All

Social Justice - continued...

What Does the Compendium Say About . . .

Human rights: Pope John Paul II has drawn up a list of [human rights] in the encyclical Centesimus Annus: the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child’s personality . . . The first right presented in this list is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights and, in particular, implies the illicitness of every form of procured abortion and of euthanasia (155).

Contraception: Also to be rejected is recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms: this rejection is based on a correct and integral understanding of the person and human sexuality and represents a moral call to defend the true development of peoples. . . All programs of economic assistance aimed at financing campaigns of sterilization and contraception, as well as the subordination of economic assistance to such campaigns, are to be morally condemned . . . (233-34)

Abortion and Direct Sterilization: Concerning the “methods” for practicing responsible procreation, the first to be rejected as morally illicit are sterilization and abortion. The latter in particular is a horrendous crime and constitutes a particularly serious moral disorder; far from being a right, it is a sad phenomenon that contributes seriously to spreading a mentality against life, representing a dangerous threat to a just and democratic social coexistence (233).

Same-Sex Marriage: The family, in fact, is born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman . . . No power can abolish the natural right to marriage or modify its traits and purpose. Marriage in fact is endowed with its own proper, innate, and permanent characteristics. . . . (211, 216).

Subsidiarity and “Big Government”: Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church’s social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical. . . . The principle of subsidiarity protects people from abuses by higher-level social authority and calls on these same authorities to help individuals and intermediate groups to fulfill their duties. . . . Experience shows that the denial of subsidiarity, or its limitation in the name of an alleged democratization or equality of all members of society, limits and sometimes even destroys the spirit of freedom and initiative (185, 187).

Social Engineering and the Concept of Justice: Justice is particularly important in the present-day context, where the individual value of the person, his dignity, and his rights—despite proclaimed intentions—are seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to make exclusive use of criteria of utility and ownership. . . . Justice, in fact, is not merely a simple human convention, because what is “just” is not first determined by the law but by the profound identity of the human being (202).

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is available online at the Vatican’s Web site (

And this is just a very brief overview of the significance of the term Social Justice in the Catholic Church.

26 posted on 03/14/2013 10:06:09 AM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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To: x

“In Catholic thought, social justice is not merely a secular or humanitarian matter. Social justice is a reflection of God’s essential respect and concern for each person and an effort to protect the essential human freedom necessary for each person to achieve his or her destiny as a child of God.” U.S. Bishops. To Do the Work of Justice (1978) 8.

It’s not about fairness rather Holy Scripture. Take for example the social justice on the right to life’s a basic and inalienable right yet it’s being violated by abortion, euthanasia...

27 posted on 03/14/2013 10:22:33 AM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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To: bamabound
Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives,...

Who defines what is reasonable and carries out the regulations, elected representatives? LOL. Also:

Social Justice
28 posted on 03/14/2013 10:33:50 AM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Thanks for your interesting post.

My 2¢:

If you just say “justice” it connotes legal.. crime and punishment. We are talking about something different.

Should a different term be used? I can’t see that without the same problems arising.

I think Social Justice is an apt term. What we are seeing, IMHO, is different philosophies and means to address it. We have the extremes of marxism and free markets on the economic system side for example.

The way I look at it we are all talking about the same thing with different ideas and approaches to it. Social Justice applies in all cases just as ‘economics’ applies whether it is capitalism or socialism.

What I think is needed is to differentiate the different values and approaches to accomplish Social Justice as well as their effectiveness.

But I don’t know how to do that.


29 posted on 03/14/2013 11:13:50 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: bronxville
Thank you for your response(s). But we have difficulty in not talking past, rather than to, each other.
I didn’t realize I was being impatient rather was under the impression it was a discussion on the term Social Justice.
I didn’t intend any complaint, but rather, I had reference to the word “anger” in the thread-starting article/post by bamabound.
Saul Alinsky was an expert at twisting Catholic Social Justice.
Saul Alinsky wasn’t particularly leery of the stricture of Isaiah 5:20 KJV):
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
I, OTOH - and I think I speak for most FReepers who are leery of the formulation “social justice” - do not wish to be taken as insensitive on that score. It’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make the prudential point that there simply has to be a formulation for what you mean by the concept you call “social justice” which does not wave red flags at 3/4 of the bulls in the world.

I put it to you that if, for example, even Thomas Sowell doesn’t understand your intellectual argument, you need to find better language. Communication - say nothing of persuasion - has become impossible. In my reference to the term “liberalism,” I tried to suggest that I understand that we are dealing with Newspeak-induced difficulties of thought and communication. But I think sure hope you can understand my point about particular term “liberalism” a lot better than I understand your point about the particular formulation “social justice."

I may have thought of an example of “social justice” - or the lack thereof: sometimes the government sets tax rates (e.g., the capital gains tax rate in particular) at such high levels that their deleterious effects outweigh their benefit. Mr. Obama has explicitly said that he liked high capital gains taxation even assuming that they damage the economy - just as long as they impact “the evil rich.” The leftist would call that “social justice.” The true liberal, in contradistinction, would call it malicious. Would a Catholic call it “social injustice?” Or something else, positive or negative?

30 posted on 03/14/2013 12:51:25 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: D-fendr

Ping to my #30.

31 posted on 03/14/2013 12:58:03 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Yet he´s not the type to compromise himself for the public. Every time he speaks, instead, he tries to shake people up and surprise them. In the middle of November, he did not give a learned homily on social justice to the people of Argentina reduced by hunger - he told them to return to the humble teachings of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. “This,” he explained, “is the way of Jesus.” And as soon as one follows this way seriously, he understands that “to trample upon the dignity of a woman, a man, a child, an elderly person, is a grave sin that cries out to heaven,” and he decides not to do it any more.

I think this new Pope points the way to Catholic Social Justice. Secular social justice is all about marking out groups, and discrimination, and redistribution, and “fairness.”

Yet, consider what Pope Francis said in the middle of the Argentinian economic crisis. The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes! Come on what rubbish is this would say a modern liberal...and yet Bergoglio stood strong on the ideals of Catholic social justice. And was eventually recognized for being able to restore and bring together the people....that the liberal social justice ripped apart. He used the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes as the guide to restore the social order, trust, and faith.

And to address your last example. A Catholic would call it theft...a sin. And one clearly can see in your own example how secular social justice hurts society, which then makes the action of excessive taxes, a sin, not justice for society.

32 posted on 03/14/2013 1:22:35 PM PDT by EBH ( American citizens do not negotiate with political terrorists.)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion; EBH

I agree with and have nothing to add to EBH’ response to your question but I’ll make another attempt to explain Catholic social teaching and reiterate that it’s based on Holy Scripture.

Mark Shea: [...]Catholic social policy which fosters the family, i.e., the revealed understanding of family as one man, one woman and children living in self-giving love is at the heart of Catholic social teaching. Catholic thought conceives of human beings not as “individuals” but as persons. “Person” is not synonymous with “individual” for a person is not a set of subjective impulses and opinions untethered from any objective truth. A person is made in the image of a Trinity Who is, in His very essence, a kind of Holy Family united in love. Therefore, persons are, of their very essence, members of family themselves and such families are a sort of Icon of the Holy Trinity. In short, persons are made to live in love and union with another and cannot exist without participating in that reality to some degree.

It’s the Trinity and not “my personal truth of the moment” or “the rights of the Individual against the Government” which is at the root of our existence, it is this love, expressed in the family, which is the earthly Icon of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, it is the family which forms the unifying basis for all the Church’s prudential (and occasional dogmatic) social teaching...

Dale Ahlquist on Chesterton: [...]Chesterton was so consistently right in his pronouncements and prophecies because he understood that anything that attacked the family was bad for society. That is why he spoke out against eugenics and contraception, against divorce and “free love” (another term he disliked because of its dishonesty), but also against wage slavery and compulsory state-sponsored education and mothers hiring other people to do what mothers were designed to do themselves. It is safe to say that Chesterton stood up against every trend and fad that plagues us today because every one of those trends and fads undermines the family.

Big Government tries to replace the family’s authority, and Big Business tries to replace the family’s autonomy. There is a constant commercial and cultural pressure on father, mother, and child. They are minimized and marginalized and, yes, mocked. But as Chesterton says, “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.”[...]

[...]Marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the order. And the Catholic Church teaches that it is a sacramental order, with divine implications. The world has made a mockery of marriage that has now culminated with homosexual unions. But it was heterosexual men and women who paved the way to this decay. Divorce, which is an abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Contraception, another abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Abortion is still not normal, but it is legal. Making homosexual “marriage” legal will not make it normal, but it will add to the confusion of the times. And it will add to the downward spiral of our civilization.

But Chesterton’s prophecy remains:

We will not be able to destroy the family. We will merely destroy ourselves by disregarding the family.

Bottomline: Simply put - Catholic social teaching rule of thumb (using Holy Scripture as a guide) -

“If it’s good for the family, it’s good. If it’s bad for the family, it’s bad.”

33 posted on 03/14/2013 8:48:47 PM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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To: bronxville

Great post. TY

34 posted on 03/14/2013 8:54:20 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

I’m all for institutions that promote a just society where justice prevails in the affairs of individuals. Such institutions include the government and the church to the extent that they establish and promote sound rules for just conduct.

Why qualify the ideal of “justice” with adjectives like “social”, “distributive”, “environmental”, “economic”, “racial”, “restorative”, etc., etc.? These only confuse understanding. Why not identify principles for just individual conduct?

35 posted on 03/15/2013 12:12:07 PM PDT by Skepolitic
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