Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation: What and why?
The Catholic Church has a long tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. Its roots go back to the Old Testament prophets, and reached a pinnacle with Jesus himself. But as a collection of teachings, it was formally developed in modern times by the Popes and Bishops beginning over 100 years ago. This teaching by the “official teachers” of the Church is for the guidance of Christians, to apply the Gospel in facing the problems and challenges of society. Certain principles have developed over the years as the Church spoke to different crises. Overall, Catholic Social Teaching proclaims the need for economic and social justice in society, peaceful conflict resolution within and among nations, and care for creation. As Jesus did in his life, it calls special attention to the fate of those who are poor and marginalized in society.
About fifty years ago, missionary congregations like S.M.A. observed that their dedicated service to people in many countries of Africa and elsewhere could be blocked, overturned, or even destroyed, by large social and economic forces connected to the wider world. They decided that the Gospel required not only direct service to those affected, but also efforts to address the systemic causes of the problems. Both were needed for mission! Using an often-repeated metaphor, they felt it was necessary not only to rescue the victims of poverty and violence whose wounded bodies appeared in the “river” of the missionaries’ lives in the field, but to try to stop the causes of such attacks on the victims “upstream” in the first place.
The lives of people in Africa are intertwined with those of people elsewhere in the world, for good or ill. Many decisions taken in far-off countries have profound effects on the daily lives and fates of Africans. Circumstances in Africa also have effects on lives of those living on other continents. Entries in this blog from the U.S. Province of the Society explore various issues of social and economic justice, peace and conflict, and care for creation, as they are seen where Africa interacts with the U.S. and other parts of the world. The hope is to contribute to the ongoing search for solutions to real problems, and to encourage those anywhere in the world who are working for improvement. Catholic Social Teaching calls all of us to promote positive, inclusive, respectful, and compassionate relationships in all directions, based on the challenge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is addressed to the whole world.
S.M.A. Office of JPIC
Victoria Falls, Africa
I hate, I despise your feasts,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities.
Even though you bring me your burnt offerings
and grain offerings
I will not accept them;
Your stall-fed communion offerings,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me
your noisy songs;
The melodies of your harps,
I will not listen to them.
Rather let justice surge like waters,
and righteousness like an unfailing stream!