Now You Know Media: Catholic Social Thought

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10 Principles of Catholic Social Thought

  • The Principle of Human Dignity
  • The Principle of Respect for Human Life
  • The Principle of Participation
  • The Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • The Principle of Solidarity
  • The Principle of Stewardship
  • The Principle of Subsidiarity
  • The Principle of Human Equality
  • The Principle of the Common Good
  • The Principle of Association

10 Principles of Catholic Social Thought

by Fr. William Byron, SJ, PhD

Now You Know Media is the source for audio and CD courses by top Catholic professors and writers, much like The Great Courses is the source for courses on college subjects by the top college professors in their subject areas. At Now You Know Media, the professors are from the University of Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America, Catholic Theological Union, the Franciscan School of Theology, Dominican University, Boston College, the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley and other universities and seminaries around the world. Subjects include Church history and teachings, Franciscan and Jesuit history and spirituality, famous Christians and Saints, spirituality and prayer, scripture, world religions, worship and sacraments, and others.

Fr. Willian Byron, SJ, PhD is currently a research professor at the Sellinger School of Business, Loyola College in Maryland. Fr. Byron holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Maryland, two theology degrees from Woodstock College, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in economics from St. Louis University. He served in the Army’s 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment in 1945-1946, and attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia for three years after his service. He then entered the Jesuit order of priests in 1950, and was ordained a priest in 1961.

In his course, “Ten Principles of Catholic Social Thought,” Fr. Byron first introduces some basic principles of Catholic social teachings and explains the difference between social teaching and social thought. Social teachings have a formal status in the Catholic Church, and include teaching documents from the Pope and the Vatican. Social thought is a less formal status and can include a priest’s sermon or wise sayings by a person about how a scripture or their faith can be applied to a social injustice. Catholic social thought includes the writings of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), an American journalist, social activist and convert who founded the Catholic Worker movement that provides direct aid to the poor and homeless.

Catholic social thought helps guide Catholics in making sure their personal values are right, that they keep the commitments they make, respect life in all forms, and think and act in a way that is marked by justice and peace. Fr. Byron instructs that while these principles are good guides for internal life, they are not enough if they do not move outward. He emphasizes the importance of active participation in human processes, such as institutions and politics, and active involvement in improving these faulty human systems. Only by active involvement can new institutions be created, and justice and peace be promoted in the market place, work place, home and institutions. He contends that every social question can be traced to problems in human institutions.

Fr. Byron talks about a shift in spirituality in America that was first described by Robert Wuthnow in his book, After Heaven:Spirituality in America since the 1950s.” He describes how spirituality is moving away from sacred dwellings and other sacred spaces toward sacred moments that are identified as reinforcing a person’s belief that God exists. Rather than being in a place that is spiritual, the sacred is found in a momentary experience while driving a car or mowing the lawn. People explore new, complex, and sometimes conflicting meanings of spirituality in moments that are sometimes fleeting.

His course teaches that faith based spirituality cannot be so inner focused that it neglects the social needs and social problems that surround us. He cautions that we cannot neglect the social questions of our time or the action required to address societal needs. He cautions of the trap of practicing valid religious activities but withdrawing from social concerns, or of viewing one admirable social concern as being in competition with another.

Fr. Byron describes a social apostolate, which is the ministry aimed at helping the poor escape poverty, protecting the weak and trying to promote justice in human relationships. This ministry can be direct, such as running soup kitchens or homeless shelters, or indirect such as research and writing aimed at finding solutions for social problems and injustices.

He defines poverty as sustained deprivation of resources such as food, shelter, money, education and so on, but suggests that what or who is responsible for sustaining this deprivation requires some reflection. He suggests that we can neither point to the poor as the blame for poverty nor entirely to the government. He suggests we not look to blame anyone or anything. Instead of looking for someone or something to blame we need to begin to reflect on the analytical issues that have to be explored if we want to get to a solution.

The remainder of the course explores ten principles or building blocks of social thought that show how to live the scriptures in daily life and apply scriptural teachings to problems of social justice. The course comes with a study guide that includes an outline, suggested readings, and discussion questions.

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Comments 16 comments

Tony DeLorger profile image

Tony DeLorger 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

Hi Kim, hope you are well. Interesting Hub. I'm not religious or a Catholic, but I have a profound connection with Catholicism; something I loosely relate to a past life experience. The understanding brought me to write a historic based novel about a monastic order in England during the time of the black plague in the 14th century.

It was a very familiar and rewarding process. Thanks for sharing.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

How interesting Tony! Is that on hubpages? Thanks for being the first to comment....in the wee hrs of the am! Good night:)


Tony DeLorger profile image

Tony DeLorger 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

The book is published in Australia and available on line. An excerpt from the story is a hub called The Monk- and excerpt. The book is called 'Of Men, Saints and Heretics'


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I'll have to look into this. I have used several Great Courses. Most are pretty good.Unfortunately many Catholic Universities and religious orders have rather gotten away from catholic doctrine.The Jesuits seem to have gotten too radical even for Andrew Greeley.

Thanks for sharing this information.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

@ Tony - will have to check it out. thanks.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

@dahoglund - Really? I'm not familiar with the Jesuit rebellion and Andrew Greeley! I don't know what that's about or who that is. Feel free to elaborate. Thanks for posting, dahoglund. I appreciate it.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Kim,

Sorry. Some times I assume people are familiar with some things when I shouldn't. Andrew Greeley is a Catholic priest, best selling author, sociologist and extremely liberal in terms of politics.He has a popular mystery series with a clerical detective modeled after G.K Chesterton's Father Brown.He has been much criticized his fiction being too racy, so to speak.His first autobiography titled "Confessions of a Parish Priest," give a lot of insight into church politics.At the very least he is interesting. I only mentioned him because he is pretty liberal, especially in politics.

The Jesuit reference of Greeley s was in regard to the priests in South America taking up arms. They were I believe Jesuits an subscribed to "liberation Theology" which is not a Catholic theology and was criticized by the pope.

Notre Dame University has, I think, drifted from being a Catholic University has, from what I read, become more secular in having speakers who would not be considered "Catholic" by most. Those who support abortion and such.I think Catholic Colleges are going the way of such schools as Harvard which was originally a school to train clergy.

This is pretty much from memory.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

Thanks dahoglund. I didn't know any of the above. There was some controversy recently about a Notre Dame speaker. I especially didn't know Harvard was originally a school to train clergy. How interesting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

As best I can recall most of the early colleges were religious in nature.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

I have always viewed religion as a sign post but may many see it as the destination. When seen as a direction religion is useful but when seen as and end it is destructive. Thank you for a great read.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

I'm not Catholic but your description of this course sounds very interesting and I have enjoyed some of The Great Courses, particularly on the topics of philosophy and world religions.

I love reading about history, biographies, world religions and spirituality so it sounds like this would be appealing to me. Thanks for sharing this info. Rated up, useful and interesting.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

@dahoglund - interesting again. Thanks so much.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

That makes sense to me Spirit Whisperer. Thanks for the insights. I'm glad you enjoyed:)


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

@Happyboomernurse - I like the idea of moving out of ourselves and our comfort zone and participating more in solving social problems... and Spirit Whisperer's idea that "religion" or church going is not an end, but a means to another end - social action. I'm usually more interested in the spiritual topics and am still working on one on psychology and spirituality. Thanks for reading, rating and commenting.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hi Kim

I enjoyed your hub, stirred up a lot for me. I have not kept up with the "intelligentia" so to speak of Catholicism in this country. I imagine there may be a lot of "great" things going on around Catholic universities and with some of the Schools of theology. But I don't really know. I was closer to all of that back in the late sixties when I studied to be a Franciscan priest for 10 years and am forever grateful that I was literally where I was at that time in Church history. Much of my personal theology, so to speak, and current spirituality was shaped during that time of study. The Franciscans were at the forefront of the anti war movement, the farm workers movement, and were involved in major cities serving the needs of the disenfranchised. My connection with catholic social thought in the so-called Inland Empire of Southern California is only what I glean from hearsay and what I see in the parish where I attend Saturday liturgy, but am not otherwise active, altho recently I have offered to provide an hour a week of therapy for no fee for anyone in the parish who "needs" therapy and maybe cannot afford good treatment. So I am rambling here!! I see the catholic church as a potentially powerful and influential organization in bringing about enormous social change not only in our country but throughout the world and folks like Pope John XXIII, back in the 60's, with Vatican II and Pope John Paul with his impact on communism, have certainly used the power of the Church for radical and much needed social change. And of course, there are plenty of giants who have stood out over the last 150 years, folks like Sister Dorothy, murdered by the drug cartel, Mother Teresa, and earlier folks like Dorothy Day (all women!) who put the Gospel into practice in ways most of us couldn't even begin to imagine let alone do. And I am sure there are lots of others, both men and women, for example, Fr. Louise Vitale, OFM and Fr. Richard Purcell, OFM who passed away just the other day. But there are times, I am ashamed of what the church does not do as its hierarchy continues to hide behind miters and rituals, canon laws, and in general an "ecclesiastical" lifestyle that falls so short of followers of Jesus, I don't know how Bishops and esepcially the Pope can sleep at night. Well, anywho, enough from me. I am certainly no saint, not even close to Mother Teresa, but if I were made a Bishop or the Pope!! I'd dispense immediately with all the robes and pomp and circumstance and require everyone in my entourage to work with alongside of me taking care of PEOPLE! I think that is enough from me. I am sitting here at starbucks having a 1.85 cookie and a 2.50 cup of iced coffee, so so much for hypocrisy!!!

THANKS AGAIN FOR THE INTERESTING AND INFORMATIVE HUB

Vern


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

Hi Vern. I was thinking about you as I was writing this one - wondering what your take would be. It would be disheartening as a young person to have ideals about the priesthood and be confronted with a reality that is much different. In general, that was a confusing time for so many in so many ways. I was younger and was struck by all the young men in the neighborhood suddenly leaving home at that time: one to the priesthood, one to the peace corp, and one to the Army. I hope you enjoyed the cookie and coffee:) Thanks for reading and commenting on my interesting and informative hub!

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