Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Dignity of the Human Person

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

One of the best-kept secrets of the Catholic Church is its Social Justice Teaching.  While the Church has been active in social justice concerns for over 100 years, its members remain largely unaware of it teachings, policies, positions and actions.  We, as Catholics, have a strong legacy in protecting the rights and dignity of man, working for the common good of society, advocating the rights and responsibilities of life, making a preferential option for the poor, respecting the right and dignity of work, seeing the plight of our neighbors in the world as a concern for all of us and protecting God’s cherished gift of this world in which we live.

The Dignity of the Human Person
All people are sacred, made in the image and likeness of God.  No person is diminished in dignity because of race, origin, color, belief, gender, age, wealth, and success in life or physical ability.  We are all God’s children deserving not only of His love, but also of the love of each of us as brothers and sisters in Christ.  To act in any way or to cause others to act in a way that diminishes a person’s dignity is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and of His Church.

We must go beyond treating people with respect and dignity; we must make sure all people are included in the decisions of our communal lives.  Each of us has worth and makes a valuable contribution to the good of the community.  Each of us has a voice in society that must be heard.  If we ignore or marginalize any person or group, we are the poorer for not experiencing their contribution for the good of all.
People who are not poor cannot really know what it is like to be poor, people who are not handicapped cannot really know what it is like to be handicapped, people who are not of a particular race cannot know what it like to be a person of that race.  It is not only in how we treat others, but also in the way we listen to others, participate with others and share with others a voice in our community that gives them dignity. 
As Catholic Christians we are called to be welcoming and inclusive to all the members of the community, in all the actions of our communal lives.  The good of all people should guide our decisions; decisions that have people at the center and not things, for it is people that we are called to love, not possessions.

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