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Catholic Conscience

UNJUST ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH: THE FOURTH SOCIAL SIN. “The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi (often quoted or paraphrased by Pope Francis).

It is certainly true that effort should be rewarded, that the willingness to work hard should be valued more than laziness. In the words of the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, “no Christian, in light of the fact that he belongs to a united and fraternal community, should feel that he has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others (cf. 2 Thes 3:6-12). Rather, all are charged by the Apostle Paul to make it a point of honour to work with their own hands, so as to “be dependent on nobody” (1 Thes 4:12). (Compendium Section 264)

But there are limits. Christians are “called to practise a solidarity which is also material by sharing the fruits of their labour with “those in need” (Eph 4:28)… “Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (Jas 5:4). (Compendium Section 264)

How are we doing as a society?

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations and unanimously adopted by all UN Member states in 2015, observe that “Billions of our citizens continue to live in poverty and are denied a life of dignity. There are rising inequalities within and among countries. There are enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power… Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is a major concern… It is also, however, a time of immense opportunity. Significant progress has been made in meeting many development challenges. Within the past generation, hundreds of millions of people have emerged from extreme poverty. Access to education has greatly increased for both boys and girls. The spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies, as does scientific and technological innovation across areas as diverse as medicine and energy.” (sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld/publication - see paragraphs 14 and 15)

If the purpose of our lives on earth is to seek truth, and if that truth is God, and if God told us that we are to care for those around us, how do we address the fact that in many parts of the world families live in abstract squalor within miles of immensely affluent homes and activities?
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UNJUST ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH: THE FOURTH SOCIAL SIN.  “The world has enough for everyones need, but not enough for everyones greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi (often quoted or paraphrased by Pope Francis).

It is certainly true that effort should be rewarded, that the willingness to work hard should be valued more than laziness.  In the words of the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, “no Christian, in light of the fact that he belongs to a united and fraternal community, should feel that he has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others (cf. 2 Thes 3:6-12). Rather, all are charged by the Apostle Paul to make it a point of honour to work with their own hands, so as to “be dependent on nobody” (1 Thes 4:12). (Compendium Section 264)

But there are limits.  Christians are “called to practise a solidarity which is also material by sharing the fruits of their labour with “those in need” (Eph 4:28)… “Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (Jas 5:4).  (Compendium Section 264)

How are we doing as a society?  

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations and unanimously adopted by all UN Member states in 2015, observe that “Billions of our citizens continue to live in poverty and are denied a life of dignity. There are rising inequalities within and among countries. There are enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power…  Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is a major concern…  It is also, however, a time of immense opportunity. Significant progress has been made in meeting many development challenges. Within the past generation, hundreds of millions of people have emerged from extreme poverty. Access to education has greatly increased for both boys and girls. The spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies, as does scientific and technological innovation across areas as diverse as medicine and energy.” (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld/publication - see paragraphs 14 and 15)

If the purpose of our lives on earth is to seek truth, and if that truth is God, and if God told us that we are to care for those around us, how do we address the fact that in many parts of the world families live in abstract squalor within miles of immensely affluent homes and activities?

A CULTURE OF INDIFFERENCE: THE THIRD SOCIAL SIN. “The opposite of the love of God, of God’s compassion,” Pope Francis has said, “is our indifference: ‘I’m satisfied; I lack nothing. I have everything. I’m assured of my place and this life and the next, since I go to Mass every Sunday. I’m a good Christian.’ But walking down the street, I pass others, who lack shelter, food, proper clothing, and I look the other way so as to avoid seeing them.”

Too often, as a society, we do the same thing with refugees, the unemployed, the underemployed, the elderly, the young who are struggling to find homes and raise families… the list goes on and on. Recent UN reports have suggested that the world now produces enough to maintain everyone in a comfortable – if not luxurious – lifestyle. As the Pope has put it, “there’s enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

What can we, as voters and engaged citizens, do about it? What are we doing about it? With the Pope, let us pray to the Lord “that He heal humanity, starting with us. May my heart be healed from the sickness of the culture of indifference.”
... See MoreSee Less

A CULTURE OF INDIFFERENCE:  THE THIRD SOCIAL SIN.  “The opposite of the love of God, of God’s compassion,” Pope Francis has said, “is our indifference: ‘I’m satisfied; I lack nothing.  I have everything.  I’m assured of my place and this life and the next, since I go to Mass every Sunday.  I’m a good Christian.’  But walking down the street, I pass others, who lack shelter, food, proper clothing, and I look the other way so as to avoid seeing them.”

Too often, as a society, we do the same thing with refugees, the unemployed, the underemployed, the elderly, the young who are struggling to find homes and raise families… the list goes on and on.  Recent UN reports have suggested that the world now produces enough to maintain everyone in a comfortable – if not luxurious – lifestyle.  As the Pope has put it, “there’s enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

What can we, as voters and engaged citizens, do about it?  What are we doing about it?  With the Pope, let us pray to the Lord “that He heal humanity, starting with us. May my heart be healed from the sickness of the culture of indifference.”

ABUSE OF CREATION: THE SECOND SOCIAL SIN. “Man and woman are created in relationship to others above all as those to whom the lives of others have been entrusted. With this specific vocation to life, man and woman find themselves in the presence of all the other creatures. Their dominion over the world requires the exercise of responsibility, it is not a freedom of arbitrary and selfish exploitation… All of creation in fact has value and is “good” in the sight of God, who is its author. Man must discover and respect its value. This is a marvellous challenge to his intellect, which should lift him up as on wings towards the contemplation of the truth of all God's creatures… (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, sections 112, 113.)

According to the New Testament, all creation, together indeed with all humanity, awaits the Redeemer: subjected to futility, creation reaches out full of hope, with groans and birth pangs, longing to be freed from decay (Compendium section 113).

Our responsibility for all creation extends not only to each of our fellow creatures now, but to all future generations as well.

In building and maintaining our economies, in our work, in our leisure activities, we cannot escape this responsibility.

As a society, how are we doing? As we make choices each day, and encourage each other in their choices, do we have the good of others - now and in future generations- in mind?

Image: Paid advertisement, Detroit Free Press. May 23, 1930, page 9.
... See MoreSee Less

ABUSE OF CREATION: THE SECOND SOCIAL SIN.  “Man and woman are created in relationship to others above all as those to whom the lives of others have been entrusted. With this specific vocation to life, man and woman find themselves in the presence of all the other creatures. Their dominion over the world requires the exercise of responsibility, it is not a freedom of arbitrary and selfish exploitation… All of creation in fact has value and is “good” in the sight of God, who is its author. Man must discover and respect its value. This is a marvellous challenge to his intellect, which should lift him up as on wings towards the contemplation of the truth of all Gods creatures…  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, sections 112, 113.)  

According to the New Testament, all creation, together indeed with all humanity, awaits the Redeemer: subjected to futility, creation reaches out full of hope, with groans and birth pangs, longing to be freed from decay (Compendium section 113).

Our responsibility for all creation extends not only to each of our fellow creatures now, but to all future generations as well. 

In building and maintaining our economies, in our work, in our leisure activities, we cannot escape this responsibility.

As a society, how are we doing?  As we make choices each day, and encourage each other in their choices, do we have the good of others - now and in future generations- in mind?

Image:  Paid advertisement, Detroit Free Press.  May 23, 1930, page 9.
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