Social Justice Ministry
What is Social Justice Ministry?
It is helping people in need and working for a more just society. It is being a voice for the voiceless.
Mission Statement: The mission of St. William’s Social Justice Ministry is to educate our parish community on ways to promote a more just society.
What is Catholic Social Teaching? “Catholic Social Teaching” refers to a set of documents that includes papal encyclicals, pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council and statements by national or regional bishops’ conferences. To be fully Catholic we must act on our faith in our daily lives. (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) These writings call us to work for justice and peace in the world in service to others.
Pope Francis and his encyclicals have rejuvenated parish conversations and interest in scriptural themes and Catholic principles. His message is clear that we are to serve the poor and be a Church for the poor.
The major themes of Catholic Social Teaching can serve as guides for acting on our faith consistent with the Bible and various church teachings including Catholic Pastoral Letters, the Second Vatican Council documents and Bishops’ Conference statements. The major themes of Catholic Social Teaching are:
- All human life is sacred and every person is created in God’s image.
- Dignity and human potential are realized in common good of families and communities.
- People have fundamental rights to life, food, shelter, healthcare, education, employment and participation in their own well-being along with corresponding duties and responsibilities.
- The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.
- There is dignity in work and workers have rights to decent work, just wages, private property, and economic initiative.
- Solidarity recognizes that we are one human family and the fates of all peoples of the earth are linked.
- We show respect for God by our stewardship of creation.
- Global solidarity means that we are all one family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences.
- Government has a constructive role to promote human dignity, protect human rights, and build the common good.
- Catholic teaching promotes peace as a positive, action-oriented concept.
“How I would love a Church which is poor and for the poor,” -Pope Francis, shortly after his election as Pope and later re-stated in The Joy of the Gospel, 2013, Ch.4, #198.
“None of us can think we are exempt from concerns for the poor and for social justice,” -Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 2013, Ch.4, #201
The Difference between Justice and Charity The two feet of loving social action are Charity and Justice. Charity is an immediate and frequently short-term response to the direct needs of the poor. Social Justice compliments charity by trying to solve societal and structural problems by attacking the root causes of social problems, especially as they affect the most vulnerable members of our society and impact people living in poverty. While this action can be political or directed at those who govern, it does not have to be partisan. (Two Feet)
Biblical justice directs us toward the elimination of oppression, poverty, and everything that keeps men and women from their full development as human beings.
What Can You Do? Live out your call to justice through one of the following examples:
- Pray: Prayer is a way to take action. Pray for those in need and for an end to injustice.
- Educate yourself: Learn about Catholic Social Teaching and social justice issues like hunger, poverty, respect life, homelessness and so on. A good place to start is the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org).
- Volunteer: Directly help people in need. Work at a food shelf or homeless shelter for example. Go to Twin Cities Catholic Charites website to look for volunteer opportunities-www.cctwincities.org. Another good website is handsontwincities.org. Volunteer here at St. William-help with Meals on Wheels or Families Moving Forward for example.
- Donate: Give of your resources-time, talent, money or material goods.
- Live more simply: Give up some of your own material needs and wants and instead give to others in need. Also, be more mindful of protecting the environment-reuse and avoid waste.
- Act through public witness: Attend a respect life rally or a march for peace for example.
- Join and/or support an advocacy organization: Get involved with a nonprofit advocacy organization like Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, Bread for the World, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition or the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing to name a few.
- Advocate directly: Call or write to your legislators and other public officials to support programs and policies that will help people in need. Vote for candidates for public office who stand up for human dignity and the common good of all.
- Join the Social Justice and Outreach Ministry group here at St. William: This group meets in the parish Ad Center on the third Thursday of the month from 7-8:30 pm during the months of September to May. The activities of the group include coordinating outreach collections for local nonprofit organizations that help people in need and providing information for parishioners about social justice issues and ways to take action.