Catholic social justice s historical development from the new testament to pope benedict xvi
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Catholic Social Justice’s Historical Development: From the New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI. The Early Church. Period lasting roughly from about the time of Jesus’ Ascension to the end of the 6 th century

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The early church
The Early Church New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • Period lasting roughly from about the time of Jesus’ Ascension to the end of the 6th century

  • In terms of doctrine, the Church is much more preoccupied with figuring out who Jesus Christ is as God, what the Trinity is, and what the Scriptures really are

  • No proper “Social Justice Doctrine” is laid out in a systematic way


Early church cont
Early Church cont. New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • The Church simply did not have the institutional power to effect widespread change at the government/institutional level as it did further down the road

  • Still though widespread calls for justice in society are heard from the greatest early Church leaders


St augustine
St. Augustine New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

St. Augustine

“Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says, “Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, did to me.”


St. Ambrose of Milan New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

“You are not making a gift to the poor man from your possessions but you are returning what is his. For what is common has been given for the use of all, you make exclusive use of it. The earth belongs to all, not to the rich.”


The church s justice exemplified in the lives of saints
The Church’s Justice Exemplified in the Lives of Saints New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • As the Church moved forward into the Middle Ages, its dedication to justice was still not articulated in an official body of doctrine but was lived out in the lives of great saints

  • Often times the increase of Church’s growing civic and institutional powers brought on calls for its own re-dedication to justice in its affairs

  • St. Francis of Assisi is the prime example of this call within the Church to return to the Gospel form of justice


Church begins establishing charitable institutions
Church Begins Establishing Charitable Institutions New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • Throughout Middle Ages and Renaissance the Church establishes justice more at the institutional level

  • Hospitals run by monastic orders become more widespread

  • St. Vincent de Paul founds an order specifically dedicated to serving the urban poor

  • Orphanages are often run by religious orders

  • Education for the poor is almost exclusively made available by the Church; our own Sisters of St. Joseph being a great example of this


The appearance of official social doctrine
The Appearance of Official Social Doctrine New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • There are a few key factors into why the Church eventually begins to articulate an official social doctrine toward the end of the 1800’s

  • First off, the Industrial Revolution occurring from the end of the 1600’s through the 1800’s brings about dramatic changes in society on all its levels

  • Governments change, population numbers explode, people move from the farm to urban areas, the nature of work and making money changes dramatically for the average person


Appearance of social doctrine
Appearance of Social Doctrine New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • For all of the great achievements of the Industrial Revolution it also brings tremendous amounts of injustice and suffering for huge numbers of people

  • Karl Marx during the mid-1800’s proposes a response to these injustices in a call for world-wide revolution and a complete re-ordering of society at every level in order to protect the interests of the common, working person


Appearance of social doctrine1
Appearance of Social Doctrine New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • Under Marx’s system there is a total re-ordering of society; private property is abolished, the state (government) owns all land and apportions it equally to each citizen, workers are deemed the ones in society to be protected not exploited

  • Marx’s system and the unbridled capitalism that he opposed were systems that had such a large scope and impact that they had to be addressed by the Church not simply with a call to justice and charity but a detailed layout of doctrine


Rerum novarum 1891
Rerum New Testament to Pope Benedict XVINovarum, 1891

  • Literally means “On the New Things”

  • Issued by Pope Leo XIII to address mainly workers’ rights and private property

  • Affirms workers’ having rights to just wages, protection from harm, limit work hours, and the right to form workers’ unions

  • Also affirms the intrinsic human right to own private property

  • Sets the important precedent of addressing the issues at hand but not picking one side over the other; offers a uniquely Catholic point of view


To the present day
To the Present Day New Testament to Pope Benedict XVI

  • Forty years after RerumNovarum, Pope Pius XI releases Quadragesimo Anno, literally “the fortieth year” reinforcing many of the same principles outlined by Pope Leo XIII

  • This encyclical introduces concept of subsidiarity (next chapter for us)

  • Begins long tradition of almost every pope to present day writing at least one encyclical which bolsters and expands on Catholic Social Doctrine (cf. pp. 42-43 in textbooks)

  • Latest Social Doctrine encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI is Caritas in Veritate addressing many of the most pressing matters involved with the world’s economic crisis


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