Our Boosters are matching gifts up to $45,000. We have $32,467 to go. Your gift today will count twice!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Bishop defends social justice against critics

Catholic World News - September 08, 2010

A Connecticut bishop has defended the concept of social justice against critics who “have been telling Catholics to eliminate the term ‘social justice’ from any organization that speaks on Catholic social justice or has this expression as part of its title.” Auxiliary Bishop Peter Rosazza of Hartford is likely referring to comments made earlier this year by radio and television host Glenn Beck, a Catholic who converted to Mormonism.

“Social justice is an integral part of official Catholic teaching,” Bishop Rosazza writes, adding:

[I]t is wrong to confuse socialism with Catholic social teaching. Pope John Paul II, no friend of socialism or of unfettered capitalism for that matter, wrote in 1991: "The social doctrine of the Church developed in the nineteenth century when the Gospel encountered modern industrial society with its new structures for the production of consumer goods, its new concept of society, the state and authority and its new forms of labor and ownership. The development of the doctrine of the Church on economic and social matters attests to the permanent value of the Church's teaching at the same time as it attests to the true meaning of her Tradition, always living and active" (Centesimus Annus, 3). This text is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2421.

Catholic social-justice teaching is based on two fundamental principles: the dignity of every human being and our solidarity with each other. These principles must be kept together. Too much emphasis on dignity can lead to individualism and a morbid sense of the self; and too much emphasis on solidarity can lead to collectivism at the expense of individuals and their rights.

Ultimately our social-justice teaching, ever since St. Thomas Aquinas, who died in 1274, integrated Aristotle's concept of the common good into his writings. We are inspired through the teaching of Sacred Scripture, in particular the Prophets who demanded in God's name that the society, not just individuals, take care of the poor, the sick and the foreigner. Jesus by his teachings and actions was imbued by the prophetic tradition.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($117,141 to go):
$150,000.00 $32,858.98
78% 22%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Sep. 09, 2010 8:19 AM ET USA

    Good for Bishop Rosazza! I am re-familiarizing myself with the richness of Catholic social teaching through Dr Rupert Ederer's excellent book: Economics as if God Matters. Papal teaching on social issues cuts against both extremes: the far left's preference for socialism and state control and the far right's preference for laissez faire capitalism. Our bishops have become too intellectually lazy however, tending to fall into a default "federal programs good" position on social issues.

  • Posted by: jimtotter - Sep. 08, 2010 5:32 PM ET USA

    True justice is always personal. In this regard, an act of charity is the act of personal giving, not a government mandate taking taxes to require a distribution of goods.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Sep. 08, 2010 3:07 PM ET USA

    Priests and Bishops need to preach about social justice (the real deal, not government aid programs) from the pulpit now and then, instead of letting the secular media define the term. The next homily I hear about social justice will be the first I've ever heard. Leo XIII and Pius XI were talking about social justice long before modern-day feminism or Vatican II. I generally like and agree with Beck most of the time, but maybe he should have read some s-j encyclicals before leaving the Church.

  • Posted by: rpp - Sep. 08, 2010 2:07 PM ET USA

    "The poor will always be with you." John 12:8 Forced charity, via taxes, is NOT just and therefore not part of authentic social justice. Authentic "social justice" must be voluntary for both the giver and the receiver. It is better referred to as corporeal acts of mercy.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Sep. 08, 2010 12:16 PM ET USA

    The term social justice has too many negative conotations. It is has strings to the unorthodox in the Church, feminism, Vatican II revisers. Why don't we just use charity. That after all is what so called social justice is about.

  • Posted by: kman - Sep. 08, 2010 11:57 AM ET USA

    If we called it by the proper term, distributive justice, then maybe Beck would not be so biased against the term.

  • Posted by: ellemk5093 - Sep. 08, 2010 10:59 AM ET USA

    It's not so much about "social Justice" as it is about Redistribution of wealth.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Sep. 08, 2010 7:51 AM ET USA

    I thought the two principles of Catholic social teaching were the principle of solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Contentious Spirits, Beware! 13 hours ago
And here's another very old story: the secular media don't understand Catholic affairs October 29
How not to be persuasive October 29
Francis the Man, Francis the Pope October 28
Clarifying what it might mean for a pope to wish to change Catholic doctrine October 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6