Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Catholics urge more focus on social justice
Posted on 11/12/2012 7:29:12 PM PST by campaignPete R-CT
WASHINGTON - A large national study on faith and political views released Oct. 23 highlighted Catholics' interest in having social justice take a bigger role in the church's policy priorities.
The American Values Survey by Public Religion Research Institute queried a cross section of all Americans but zeroed in on the opinions of Catholics, in particular, on topics including contraceptive coverage in insurance and the death penalty as well as on the pending presidential election.
In interviews during September, a majority of Catholics told pollsters that they would prefer it if the church would focus its public policy statements "more on social justice and the obligation to help the poor, even if it means focusing less on issues like abortion and the right to life."
Sixty percent of Catholics concurred with that statement or with another version in which the phrasing was reversed.
Among those Catholics who attend church at least weekly, 51 percent chose the social justice emphasis, while 65 percent of those who attend monthly or less often made that choice. Among the various demographic breakouts provided by the study, just two segments -- self-identified conservatives and Republicans -- agreed with the statement by less than 50 percent, 46 percent and 47 percent, respectively, though that was still the plurality response.
Social justice was chosen by slightly more poll participants who self-identified as conservative and Republican than selected the opposite. For instance, 44 percent of self-identified conservatives chose: "should focus more on issues like abortion and the right to life, even if it means focusing less on social justice and the obligation to help the poor," or its parallel wording. Ten percent of conservatives answered "neither" or said they "didn't know."
Michele Dillon, a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire who specializes in research on religion and culture, said the response reflects a long-term pattern in Catholic thinking, despite what she considered a drawback in the question forcing a choice between just two concepts.
She said previous open-ended polling elicited similar priorities.
"Care for the poor and needy has been a strong theme in Catholic teaching since the end of the 19th century," Dillon told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 25 phone interview. "That's been totally in continuity with the church leadership over the decades and it's still primary for a lot of people in defining what it means to be Catholic."
"It's right up there with belief in the Resurrection with what people say it means to be Catholic," she said.
Coincidentally, two items on the agenda for the annual fall general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are a proposed document on preaching that emphasizes the need to connect homilies with people's lives, and a message on the economy, "Catholic Reflections on Work, Poverty and a Broken Economy."
There's a pretty good link between the polling data and the two documents, in the mind of one theologian who advises the bishops.
"Spiritually, people are thirsting for the message of the Gospel and to find hope in the midst of economic suffering," said Meghan Clark, an assistant professor of theology and religious studies in moral theology at St. John's University in Queens, New York, and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
In an Oct. 25 interview with CNS and a related exchange of emails, she said that people may feel they hear enough about abortion and related topics because, "many priests are comfortable delivering a counter-cultural message on life issues because they are perceived as black/white issues."
The survey suggests that Catholics "want them to issue the same challenge on social justice issues, which are at the heart of the Gospel," Clark added. "It isn't primarily about politics, but about communicating the challenge of the Gospel -- that discipleship requires concern for the 'least' and dismantling structures of sin."
Clark, who teaches moral theology, said "frequently the only thing my non-Catholic students know about the faith is the teaching on abortion." The Catechism of the Catholic Church says abortion is "gravely contrary to the moral law" in all cases.
"There's no doubt, no confusion about what the church teaches on abortion," she said. But the social teachings are less well understood, she added.
She said she wasn't surprised that even the most regular churchgoers also want to hear more about social justice.
"People want to live integrated lives, to follow the Gospel, to have integrity in what they do Sunday and every day," Clark said.
Clark said the bishops' decision to write a reflection on the economy came out of concern that people are suffering from poverty, unemployment, underemployment and other financial difficulties. Like most documents of the bishops' conference it is a product of months of effort.
The American Values Survey was based on interviews with 3,003 adults phoned between Sept. 13 and 20. The margin of error for the total survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points. No margin of error was given for the subset of Catholics in the study.
Editor's Note: A CNS video story about the survey can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=No2X2CW5IGs&noredirect=1.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic
I put this in Catholic Caucus because I am interested in sober comments from fellow Catholics about ideas for dealing with the Social Justice activities in the Church.
Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ, he said. If it doesnt, it isnt Catholic.
Not long ago I explained to my priest that the term Social Justice had its origin in the Communist movement of the 19th century. Every dictator since then has used that term to put forth their ideology while they were subjugating the masses.
A REMINDER THAT THIS IS A CATHOLIC CAUCUS THREAD
I want to avoid the usual obvious remarks about liberals and hope to steer toward a more sober discussion.
That link is to the Hartford Archdiocese web site. Read the resumes. No discussion of Pro-life or Marriage in any of the newsletters.
The September Newsletter:
Franciscan Spirituality and Grassroots Organizing, St. Pius X Church, Middletown
they did their grassroots organizing ... for the elections.
The focus on the state legislative races, Social Justice at the state level. Obama was not an issue in CT.
Yes, the Church is anti-Socialism and Communism. The Holy Father was at Tubingen during the times of it’s heavy marxism and has fought these battles.
What is relevant today is that all Christianity has lost much of its role to government and we need to take it back to get the federal government out of our lives. It was a long slide into it and will be a long struggle out of it.
Social Justice, in its relatively new iteration, is heresy (liberation theology). Charity-by-government is oxymoronic at best, theft at worst. If social justice meant private individuals acting even in groups to help the needy or the poor, it’s charity. The government has no money of its own to contribute, only yours.
If bishops are teaching, anywhere, that government must fund the needy, they’re teaching outside their authority and against everything the church has preached throughout its history. As even the Catholic Church must have learned this year, all that ‘giving’ has impossible price-tags.
The more I hear the term, the more I wonder “WT* is ‘social justice’?”
Seems akin to someone rattling the bars of their cage, failing (or refusing) to notice the door is wide open.
“Social Justice” is NOT some government run, “tax the rich” scheme that relieves the us from our responsibility for individual charity.
Pretending that your desire for government managed “social justice” somehow trumps your responsibility to protect innocent human life, is an abomination in scriptural interpretation.
For details, read “Render Unto Caesar” by Archbishop Charles Chaput.
I was raised a Catholic and I must say these “Catholics” make me puke.
Social justice STARTS with the unborn babies and any Catholic that doesn’t believe a soul resides in the fetus in the womb is an abomination.
Visit Ann Barnhardt’s site; she recently posted a grisly photo of a baby that had been decapitated during an abortion. I was reading her posts and involuntarily saw it—I cried ‘til I thought I would vomit. My better half was disturbed that I might have seen it from an e-mail—when I got my breath back, I explained how I accessed it.
Although I protested abortion as a child with my mother quite a long time ago, it had been a long time since I have seen photo evidence of the “results” of such procedures.
I not only do NOT fault Ann for posting this photo I reacted to so sickeningly; I applaud her. More “catholics” need to see the results of abortion.
Understand me when I say damn the catholics that support such travesties...and DAMN the progressives that try to force others to subsidize it.
More? I have yet to have been to a RC church that does not do tons of works of mercy for the poor, but I have been to plenty that demand to ignore abortion, problem is, too many in the RC church think they are protestants and have serious lack of understanding of their own teachings ...
and as explained by JP II in:
Addressed by the Supreme Pontiff
John Paul II
to the Bishops
Priests and Deacons
Men and Women Religious
and All People of Good Will
ON THE VALUE AND INVIOLABILITY
OF HUMAN LIFE
Each parish should do a study group on this encyclical..
Ryan is impressive on the RCC issues...
Ya....these clowns chant “Social Justice”, while Obama’s HHS mandate is forcing the closure of all of the Catholic Charities, Schools, and Hospitals, which are the primary providers of all that IS “Social Justice”.
This Religion Forum thread is labeled “Catholic Caucus” meaning if you are not currently, actively Catholic then do not post on this thread.
This woman, the Catholic Contraception Lady ran a campaign with her platform as follows:
Graduate of Mercy Catholic High School, free contraception paid by the state, more state money for Planned Parenthood, endorsed by NARAL.
She defeated one of those right-wing Republican pro-lifers, 50.1% to 49.9%. The social justice folks held their org meetin in the district. The Capuchin Franciscans at the parish assist the event. See above.
They were successful. The Catholics in key neigborhoods, voted for her heavily.
“Justice, Peace and Ecology This ministry is inspired by the love of the Gospel and by the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, and led by the tradition of Catholic Social Justice teaching. For more information, contact Fr. Sam at the Friary office”
Blessed John Paul II pray for us
I feel that the churches may be responsible for the steady decline of people being responsible for themselves. In the 40’s and 50’s the churches played a pivotal role in giving folks down on their luck a hand up and the people were very wiling to participate in that help. The Great Society removed the burden from the private sector and put it on government where it could grow into what it is today and the churches are now off the hook.
Is “Astronomy Picture of the Day” thread is only for currently active astronomers?
I never knew there was such a segregationist rule.
Wouldn’t want to taint the cult with an infidel.
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