This week I continue with excerpts from the American bishop’s pastoral letter on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Another question the bishops ask is “What does the Church say about Catholic Social Teaching in the Public Square?” They then go on to address seven key themes which I will begin to look at in this article.
The Right to Life and the Dignity of the Human Person
Human life is sacred. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or in any condition. In our society, human life is especially under direct attack from abortion. Other direct threats to the sanctity of human life include euthanasia, human cloning, and the destruction of human embryos for research.
Catholic teaching about the dignity of life calls us to oppose torture, unjust war, and the use of the death penalty; to prevent genocide and attacks against noncombatants; to oppose racism; and to overcome poverty and suffering. Nations are called to protect the right to life by seeking effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts except as a last resort, always seeking first to resolve disputes by peaceful means. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The human person is not only sacred but also social. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family – based on marriage between a man and a woman – is the first and fundamental unity of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. It should be defended and strengthened, not redefined or undermined by permitting same-sex unions or other distortions of marriage. Respect for the family should be reflected in every policy and program. It is important to uphold parents’ rights and responsibilities to care for their children, including the right to choose their children’s education.
How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly affects the common good and the capacity of individuals to develop their full potential. Every person and association has a right and a duty to participate actively in shaping society and to promote the well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good.
I will share the rest of the key themes in future bulletins. If you are interested in reading the document you can access it through the bishops’ web site: http://www.usccb.org.
Our parish picnic and parish life showcase is next Saturday, September 8th, after the 5 o’clock mass. I hope you can join us for the fun and a chance to see all of the things our parish offers.