Points of Social Justice

Integrate faith and action in your personal life 
and take an active part in public life and in organizations 
to change them from within.
                                                                        Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 1963

Some General Points

What is Justice?


    Justice may be defined as, "to each his/her own."  Justice is based on the equal human dignity of every person.

What is Catholic Social Justice?

     Catholic social justice is our daily working for the common good, with a preferential option for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.

     Social justice begins with working together to provide everyone with the basic needs of food, shelter, education, health care and safety.  (Cf. Solidarity below.)  We provide these basic needs by providing the opportunity for everyone to have a job that provides a living income.  Then we help those who, with no fault of their own, cannot provide themselves with a living income.

    After everyone's basic needs are cared for, we can then earn as much as our talents and opportunities open to us.  Those with more wealth are obliged to help those in need.

Distributive Justice

    Distributive justice requires that the goods of society must be equitably, i.e., fairly, distributed.  This does not mean, as some people claim, that our society must be a Socialist society.  It means that first and foremost, our capitalist system must fulfill the requirements of the common good, with a preferential option for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.  As long as the common good is satisfied (and this, of course, is an ongoing challenge) the income and wealth of our people can be unequal.  

    The equitable distribution of goods and wealth is not charity.  Charity comes into play only after justice has been satisfied.  E.g., welfare, unemployment compensation, food stamps for the hungry, etc., are expressions of justice, not charity.  

Subsidiarity and Solidarity

    Subsidiarity:  Full respect must be given to the freedom and participation of individual persons and lower organizations in the large community.  The higher and more complex organizations of society should not do what individuals or the lower and simpler organizations can--and should--do for themselves.  
     The higher organizations should support the lower communities in case of need and help coordinate their activities with the activities of the rest of society.  
      Solidarity:  Subsidiarity always functions within the context and needs of the common good, of Solidarity.  When individuals and lower organizations cannot fulfill their needs and functions or those of the common good, the higher organizations must fulfill those needs and functions.
       Subsidiarity therefore, works together with Solidarity.  Solidarity is the basic and prime consideration.

Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2419-63

Some Particular Points

1.  Concerning the Poor
    Aid to the poor is an obligation in justice for individuals and society. (Vat.II, The Church in the Modern World)
    We must recognize the injustice of the few having so much and the many having almost nothing.  (Pope John Paul II, "The Social Concern of the Church," 1987)
     Compared to many other parts of the world, the U. S. is a privileged, privileged land.  Yet even here there is much poverty and human suffering.  There is much need for love and the works of love; there is need for social solidarity [marked by] a great openness and sensitivity to the needs of one's neighbors.  (Pope John Paul II, at Giants Stadium, NY 1995)

2.  Concerning Workers and Public Economic Policy
   Workers have a right to organize unions.  (Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 1891)
    Affirm employees' sharing in ownership of management and profits.  (Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magister, 1961)
    Workers have a right to form associations to defend their vital interests.
     Foster just wages, joint ownership, and sharing in management and profits by labor.
     Base the value of work on the worker's dignity, the primacy of the person over things, and of human labor over capital.
    Affirm society's responsibility as "indirect employer" to provide employment and just labor policies.  (Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, On Human Work, 1981)
     Promote a system of taxation based on assessment according to ability to pay. (U. S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986)
     Affirm unions.  Develop public policies for full employment, job security and workplace safety.  Hold businesses responsible for more than profit.  (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, The 100th Year since Rerum Novarum. 1991) 
     
3.  Concerning International Justice
   Rich nations are bound to accept a less material way of life,with less waste. (Synod of U. S. Bishops, 1971
    Lighten or cancel the debt of poor nations. (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991)
    Aid less developed countries without thought of dominion.  (Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 1961)

4.  Concerning Ecological Justice
   Develop a new ecological ethic that will help shape a future that is both just and sustainable.
(U. S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986)
    Plan development with respect for nature:  human dominion over the earth is not absolute. 
(Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, The Social Concerns of the Church, 1987)

5.  Points from Caritas in Veritate,  Charity in Truth, The Proclamation of the Truth of Christ's Love in Society 
    The primary capital to be safeguarded and valued by man, the human person, in his/her integrity.
   Every economic decision has a moral consequence.
   Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value.  ...business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business:  the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference.
   In recent years a new cosmopolitan class of managers has emerged, who are often answerable only to the shareholders generally consisting of anonymous funds which de facto determine their remuneration.
(Pope Benedict XVI, 2009)


















     
















             

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