Catholic is a Roman Catholic faith or a member of the Roman Catholic Church. The term catholic was initially used to mean a universal church. Therefore, it is used to describe all Christians of diverse religions around the universe since we all believe in Jesus Christ. In the 2nd century, catholic was used to reiterate its universal aspect. Catholic Church is among the largest Christian church with approximately one billion followers around the globe. The Roman Catholic Church has played a domineering role in western civilization. The head of the church, according to church’s hierarchy, is the Pope. Catholicism refers to the beliefs and traditions upheld by the Catholic Church.
According to some religious beliefs, Catholicism is stipulated to be in contrast with Protestantism. On the contrary, some churches such as Methodists, Anglican, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and the Eastern Orthodox declare themselves as catholic as a way of continuing the universal church established by the apostles. Catholicity is recognized as one of Four Marks of the church besides unity, apostolicity, and sanctity,the early Christian referred Christian to all true believers and followers of Jesus Christ. However, it was not used to describe certain denomination, communion, or specific church. The Roman Catholic Church has myriad beliefs and traditions that are practiced and taught through the Catholic social teaching.
The catholic social teaching is referred to as a rich doctrine containing the treasure of wisdom that entails the creation of a society that is just and living holy lives despite the presence of modern challenges. The catholic social teaching embraces matters concerning poverty, wealth, social organization, and economics among others and their state role. The catholic social teachings’ foundation was laid down Pope Leo XIII’s in 1891 through the encyclical letter RerumNovarum. The letter emphasizes on equal economic distribution with an ardent criticism of capitalism and socialism. The catholic social teachings can also be attributed to the great works of St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Aquinas, who came about with the concept of the present Bible.
The Catholic Church social teachings emerged since the publication of Leo XIII, encyclical, Rerum Novarum. The publication dealt with the three coordinates of persons, systems, and structures. These are regarded as the modern co-ordinates of justice and peace promotion in the Roman Catholic Church. These teachings are referred to as a core, and crucial element of Christians’ faith. The basis of catholic social teachings is in the prophet Hebrew, who spoke of love for the poor and called children of a God to an agreement of love and justice. Jesus Christ can be associated with the teachings through His words, “to bring glad tidings to the poor”. Catholic social teachings are aimed at showing commitment to the poor. The catholic believes that Jesus Christ’s experience in the Eucharist is sufficient to prove commitment to the poor.
The catholic social teachings embrace every part of the Holy Bible through the New Testament to Old Testament. God showed his true love for the world by giving out His only son to die for all of us. This act is sufficient enough to describe God’s true love for the world. Jesus Christ came to earth to die for humankind's sin so they can see the kingdom of heaven. Humankind was created in Gods image, and thus should share the communal and social nature of the Holy Trinity. These teachings can also be stipulated to have been derived and based on humankind's understanding of human life and dignity. As the Bible states, every human being is created in the likeness of God and hence, worthy to belong in the human family. Human dignity is derived from God, and no human being can provide it through any accomplishment or quality. According to catholic social readings, Catholics commitment to the social mission should be founded and strengthened by spiritual lives. The relationship between humankind and Jesus Christ play an important role in social life on earth. The scriptures state that humankind should love one another as God loved the world. The Christian faith continuity and the social teachings have been passed on through catholic leadership.
Catholic social teachings form part of Christians’ body of ideas about social issues that were founded and developed by the Catholic Church over hundred years ago. These social teachings are a reflection of gospel virtues and values including love, justice, peace, compassion, reconciliation, service, and community in the aspect of the problems facing the modern society. Development of Catholic teachings is a continuous process that is based upon observations, actions, and analysis. These teachings are of great importance to the society, and Christians in general in tackling social problems present in the modern society. The foundation of Catholic teachings on Pope Leo’s principles influences the way the society carry out their day to day activities. Therefore, they form the basic guidelines for Christian values and deeds. For instance, the values elaborate and analyze the rights to own private property, to work, receive fair wages, and to form workers’ organizations.
Principles of Catholic Social Teachings
Human Dignity and equality
According to scriptures, every person is created in the image of God. This has a significant role in bringing out, clearly, the aspect of human dignity and respect for all human beings. As a member of the human family, all individuals are worthy and invaluable for respect among each other. Human dignity is the foundation of undeniable rights such as political, social, economic, and legal rights. This is considered as the most vital catholic social teaching principle that falls before others. Unlike other creatures, human beings are capable of knowing, loving and praising God. As a result, human dignity forms the basis of all other ideals as expressed in the social teachings. The bible stipulates that all people are children of one God, implying that we are brothers and sisters.
Equality for all people falls under respect for human dignity. According to Catholic tradition, it is God’s plan for people to have different talents and gifts. On the contrary, people are not supposed to discriminate others on lines of social, economic, or cultural differences. Human kinds are created in the image of God. As a result, every person is entitled to respect and acknowledge each other for their existence. Existence of equal distribution of wealth and income is a correspondent of the ideals of solidarity in the society. Social and economic structures are expected to manifest and promote social justice in the society. Catholic tradition enlightens us of an equal and just distribution of wealth to all people. According to scriptures,every person is equal before the eyes of the Lord. As a result, human beings should manifest equality in the society in order to ensure decent living conditions.
Common Good and solidarity
According to the catholic social teachings, human rights are enjoyed within the framework of facilitating acts of common good. Therefore, it is aimed at respecting the other individuals’ rights and duties. Individual rights are to be taken with the utmost respect, and should be taken seriously. According to the catholic social teachings, human beings are sacred and social before God. Realization of human dignity is accomplished through our individuals’ interaction within the society. Christians are, therefore, required to manifest good stewardship and respect for all God’s creation. The ideal of common good ensures individuals respect each other’s rights and exhibit kindness. As a result, public authorities facilitate accomplishment of this ideal to prevent exclusion of a portion of the population. Achievement of common good means that individuals are able to come into their full potential as human beings, thus becoming what God expects. Through this principle, other rights such as a right to the goods of the earth, and to own private property follow. Environmental protection and religious freedom are taking a great part of the common good ideal among Christians.
According to Pope John Paul, God created human beings to live in solidarity. This is an important aspect of community in ensuring people support each other, and stay loyal to the common for all individuals. The importance of staying in unison is because we cannot fulfill what Gods expects from us without joining hands and being responsible for every human kind. Pope John Paul reiterates the importance of solidarity in social institutions such as schools, parish, and other organizations. Members of the aforementioned organizations should remain supportive, and show concern for the common good of all persons. The church emphasizes on working together in a global outlook by being responsible to each other in a world of diverse cultural beliefs, economic, and racial disparities.
The ideal of subsidiarity implies that individuals in the society should be eligible to rights and freedoms that allow them to do what is best for themselves without being taken advantage of their action by a third party whatsoever. This principle empowers citizens or associations to take part in political, social, and economic functions of the society. Participation of individuals or organization is a great aspect of the principle of solidarity. Despite the presence of challenges, it is important for Christians to participate in the community development programs. Subsidiarity facilitates a good foundation and flourishing relationship between individuals and the government.
Rights and Responsibilities
The catholic beliefs teach us that protection of the ideals for catholic teachings such as human dignity and a healthy society can be accomplished if only individuals’ rights and responsibilities are met. Every individual is eligible for the right to life and a right to have a decent life. Rights and responsibilities for human kinds are expected to be protected to prevent infringement of others rights. Every person in the society is anticipated to perform his or role, according to the stipulated obligation. Some rights that individuals are entitled to include right to life, health care, food, shelter, and education among others. Therefore, it is essential for all people to engage in the decision making process in matters involving their lives. The right and responsibility, to respect others’ rights to work for a common good, is part of the rights and responsibilities.
Option for Poor
The most important moral test for individuals and the entire society is a treatment of the poor. It is imperative for the society to look after the poor in accomplishing the solidarity principle of Catholic teachings. In any society, the poor are the most vulnerable group of people to all ills in life, including poverty, sickness, crime, and indecent living conditions. As all individuals have the right to life and decent living standards, the government is expected to be committed to its responsibility in taking care of the poor. The society creates division between the rich and the poor. Therefore, the poor peoples' priorities need to be given an upper hand to enhance the creation of equality in the society. The Catholic Church has no clear means of how the problem of the poor people should be addressed. On the contrary, aggressive measures by the government can help mitigate the problem. The government in conjunction with non-governmental organizations needs to initiate mechanisms that will alleviate poverty. The aforementioned ideals form part of the catholic social teaching that Catholics acknowledge and adhere to the letter.
Care for God’s creation
God create man and entrusted him to take good care of His creation on earth. According to the teachings, God’s creation is much important to all human kinds on earth and so everyone is obligated to look after it for future generations. Through this ideal, human kinds manifest respect to the Lord by honoring His work on earth. Stewardship for creation is imperative for all beings in reciprocating what God brought on the earth. Human beings are expected to take care of the earth as part of catholic faith requirement. God calls upon us to protect people, and the entire planet in fulfilling our faith and relationship with the almighty God. According to the Bible teachings, we are all members of one family of the almighty God, and we are expected to care for each other. The environment poses a great challenge to human kind though it is accompanied by moral and ethical aspects. It is, therefore, important for all human beings to respect and look after Gods creations at all costs.
Dignity of work and the rights for workers
According to catholic teachings, the economy is expected to serve people, but not people serving the economy. The teachings emphasize on work as being a way of making a living among individuals. The scriptures stipulate that people should participate in working so as to continue with God’s creation. People are encouraged to be active and participate in activities that will augment their living. As part of the teachings, work need to be protected at all costs through acknowledging and respect for workers’ rights. There are quite a number of rights that need to be observed when dealing with workers in the workplace. For instance, workers are expected to be subjected to fair and just wages equivalent with the value of work done, right to organize and form unions that support their rights and freedoms. Pope John Paul stated that government needs to protect workers’ rights, but not to destroy them. The church facilitates workers in the formation of unions that are aimed at mitigating the excesses of industrialization.
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