Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We certainly are in the midst of interesting times! Russia continues its attack upon Ukraine, we are witnessing the impact of the Supreme Court’s leaked document regarding abortion laws, and escalating concerns about the economy are in the headlines. There are also issues regarding state laws legislating teachers’ roles in addressing human sexuality among young children. Racism and immigration and other important issues continue to be addressed. The debate of capital punishment presses on. Climate change demands more questions. And then there is Twitter and free speech. Talk about touching all of our seven pillars of Catholic Social Teaching (CST)!
How do we address the multi-layered issues within each of the topics mentioned? Do Catholics know what the seven pillars of CST actually are? Do we know the teaching of each pillar? Do we understand the connections among them?
Every Catholic has a personal obligation to learn these teachings. Those who are called to present these teachings – whether in the classroom or from the pulpit – have a duty to present all of them. These are not menu items. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching identifies the fundamental identity of our personhood and our participation in a community. Those themes are 1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person, 2. Call to Family, Community, and Participation, 3. Rights and Responsibilities, 4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, 5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, 6. Solidarity, and 7. Care for God’s Creation. These teachings are part of a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Indeed, living them out consistently can get complex but the aim is always to see their interrelatedness. Many would say that it is a gnarly woven web but disciples see it as a web of grace.
Since first arriving in 2018 it’s been my personal goal to listen and learn how the seven pillars are lived out in a diverse community. While the listening continues, two observations are abundantly made clear to me. The first observation is that fruitful efforts are being made in our own parish and community over the many years. I see it daily and the examples are plentiful as the basic needs of our brothers and sisters are being met. Furthermore, many themes, or pillars, are highlighted throughout the year in our liturgical life, faith formation, and events we host.
The second observation, however, suggests to me that some pillars are warmly embraced while others are minimalized, ignored, or outright rejected. This imbalance suggests that much work is yet to be done. And so the listening and conversations continue. Somewhere between statistical data and anecdotes lies our mission.
Therefore, this week’s column comes with a personal invitation for those willing to accept it. I’d like to form an intentional study group to help shape dynamic and constructive conversation shaped through the lens of the seven pillars. We’ll begin with studying the seven pillars. Stay tuned for more details in the following weeks.
Easter Season blessings,