Father Kevin Clinton is the Pastor of the New Prague Catholic Community in New Prague, Minnesota. At the May 16 Convening event, he shared why creating homes is important from a Catholic perspective. This is the first in a series of blog posts from religious leaders sharing what it means to have a home according to their faith tradition.
We are tempted as human beings to see our relationship with God as an I-thou relationship, "God and me." But all human beings are profoundly social. All of us live and die in a culture and social context. Catholic Social Teaching challenges us to scrutinize our own behavior and the behavior of the social environment we and others live in.
The teaching presents principles that bring about an understanding of what it means to live the Gospel in our relationships with one another. It call us not only to be charitable but also to recognize, challenge and change social structures that are unjust.
The Catholic Bishops of the United States have summarized the body of "Catholic Social Teaching" by stating seven principles. These principles are as follows:
- The Life and Dignity of the Human Person. All life is sacred, from conception to natural death. All people are created in the image and likeness of God, and all are equal in the eyes of God. People are more important than things and relationships are more important than possessions. This first principle has received further development in Pope Francis' recent encyclical Laudato si. The Care of our Common Home, the care of the biosphere of our earth, is clearly connected to respecting the Life and Dignity of all Human Persons. Human life comes from the dust of the earth and our bodies return there. Natural systems and other life forms sustain the earth's biosphere of which we are a part. This first principle, "the life and dignity of the human person," is foundational to the six that follow.
- Call to Family, Community and Participation. We humans grow and thrive only by interacting with others in friendships, families, and community. It is our responsibility to act for good of all communities and not just ourselves. This principle emphasizes peace among all peoples.
- Rights and Responsibilities. All people have basic rights, including the right to worship, to raise a family, to immigrate, to live without discrimination, and rights to adaquate education, employment, a safe environment, food, shelter and clothing. All people have the basic responsibility to respect other's rights and to work actively for the common good.
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. We are called as Christians to defend and promote the dignity of the least among us. The church challenges us to practice both acts of charity and acts of social justice that encourage society to meet all people's basic needs.
- The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. Catholic teaching holds that every person has the right to work as a way of contributing with dignity to God's creation. The economy exists to serve people, not the other way around. This means our work environments treat laborers with respect, pay fair wages and provide a chance for advancement.
- Solidarity. We are one human family, regardless of race, nationality, or religion. We are obligated to work for peace and justice globally.
- Care for Creation. The goods of this world are meant to be shared by all. We are called to respect and take care of our Earth, including preserving the Earth for the future.
Striving to live by these seven principles, challenge us to live out our Catholic faith as disciples of Jesus in the context of our world. Our involvement with Families Moving Forward is a concrete way the New Prague Area Catholic Community expresses our discipleship in action.