”Social Justice”: A Misunderstood and Abused Concept. Study it on 5/12 and 5/26.

There are many political groups that claim to work for “Social Justice” (series on “Social Justice” and “FAST”).  They are usually well-meaning folks who generally never define what social justice is, nor do they understand the many dangers posed by their means of producing this ill-defined end. While the history is a bit murky, the term “Social Justice” was created by a Catholic Scholar, Jesuit Luigi Taparelli, and it has been used frequently by American Catholic Leaders to animate their political agendas.  Therefore it is entirely appropriate to begin an examination of Social Justice from its roots as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is an amazing document that serves as the bedrock source of the Catholic Church’s teachings.  The world was blessed that it was updated by no other than one of history’s greatest advocate of freedom and a freedom fighter who stood against Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia: His Holiness Pope John Paul II.  Since there are so many non-Catholics and Catholics who claim to work for Social Justice, it seems fitting that they should study what the Catechism states about Social Justice.  It is in this spirit that the Sun Beam  Times Blog offers this analysis on Social Justice and sponsors a catechism study on Social Justice and Morality at the offices of Dr. David McKalip.

growingfaithcoverThe Study on Social Justice and Morality will occur at “Start To Finish Spine Care”, adjacent to Founders Corner from 10am-12pm, 5/12 and 5/26 at 431 Southwest BLVD N, ST. Petersburg Florida (SW corner of 4th St N and 62nd Ave. N, in between Washington and Jefferson Circles; lunch will be served; please RSVP here: dmckalip@neuro3.net).

All are welcome, Catholics and Non-Catholics.

As a person who regularly reads and tries to live by the Catechism, I will offer my thoughts here. But I should emphasize that I am not an officially trained catholic scholar or catechist.  I am a member of the lay Catholic community.  However, no such qualification is needed, as we Catholics are encouraged to gather in small groups and study the bible and other concepts forming the foundation of our Faith. The study on 5/12 and 5/26 will use source material recommended by the Director of Evangelization and Life Long Faith Formation, Brian Lemoi of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Mr. Lemoi advises me that such self-initiated catechism study is appropriate and encouraged.  The study will consist of prayer, reflection and group reading from the text of the source material.  Applicable quotes from the Catechism will be provided in a handout.  The booklets are from the “Growing Faith” series published by Twenty Thrid Publications (named for the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….”).   

It should be emphasized that the sections describing Social Justice should NOT be read or understood out of the context of the entire Catechism.  The Catechism describes a just and loving God who has granted, through his grace and mercy, free will to individual men.  He expects us to live up to our highest ability and to be responsible for our own lives, while at the same time caring for our brothers and sisters as if they were an extension of ourselves. We are reminded that we should live under the assumption, “Above all – Charity”, as offered by his holiness Pope John Paul II as the last word in his prologue to the Catechism.  The study will focus on selections from Section III “Life in Christ”, which is described by John Paul II as follows:

  “The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude, and the ways of reaching it – through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God’s law and grace (Section One), and through conduct that fulfils the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God’s Ten Commandments (Section Two).

 This analysis will occur for the rest of the week here at the Sun Beam Times.  It is most directly inspired by the group FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together) which is a pure political group that claims to work for Social Justice but actually perpetrates injustice in nearly every way it can and every act it advocates.   FAST wraps itself in the piety of the Church, synagogue and mosque (it is multi-denominational) to justify its actions.  It  gathers about 3,000 people to demand political action by politicians  yet claims it is not a political group.  The group refuses to allow any dissenting views to be presented to its committees or Board and its “leaders” are all hand appointed by Priests, Rabbis and Imam’s with no election and no accountability to the Parish. This accountability is important for a variety of reasons including the fact that FAST seeks the appearance that it is operating in the names of all members of these congregations, takes money from the offertory of churches over the objections of many parishioners and is a daughter organization of a larger group (DART) with more nefarious allies like ACORN, the SEIU and the Tides Foundation.  At its core, so much of the “Social Justice” that FAST claims to seek is actually a redistribution of wealth and a replacement of individual initiative and action by action of society. As this Study on Social Justice will make clear, that is a violation of God’s moral law for man.

 This study on Social Justice will allow people to understand the true meaning of “Social Justice”.  It will help students gain an understanding of the proper role of at least Catholic religious leaders and institutions in politics.  Finally, those participating will see what the Catechism states about Moral behavior.  Those studying these concepts will then be able to judge for themselves whether FAST is an organization their parish should promote and support or whether they should be actively opposed as a corruption and a scandal in the church.

 When it comes to Social Justice, several concepts must be understood to put it into context, for instance , The “Common Good” and legitimate exercise of “authority”.  It is essential also that the concepts of “Subsidiarity” and the church’s position on “Socialism” and “Collectivism” is understood and all within the concept of “Moral Action”.  These issues will all be examined here this week in preparation of the Catechetical study on Social Justice.  Before quoting from the Catechism on Social Justice, I will offer this essential quote from paragraph 1930 of the Catechism: “..rights {that} flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority”.  In other words, there are individual rights that flow from God. These are NATURAL RIGHTS and society violates those rights when it expects individuals to subjugate their own rights to a perceived “right” of or “service to” society or a collective.  These natural rights are examined in the Catechism but are also the same rights recognized as “natural rights” by the Founders of our Country, the last bastion of individual liberty and defender of man from an overbearing society: the United States of America.





 1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.


 1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:

 What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35

 1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church’s role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.