5 members Religious
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is the official teaching of the Church on the social order, impacting on all dimensions of society, including the economic and the political. It is an essential part of the Catholic faith. The Church wants to build a just society and it seeks to do so on the solid foundation of four fundamental values: Truth, Freedom, Justice and Love. Note, however, that it is not the Church’s role to replace the state and politics. Neither is it the Church’s role to make policies; rather, the Church seeks to inspire the state and, in particular, its political institutions with the beauty and goodness of CST in order to bring about a more just society. The three values of truth, freedom and justice, which are all underpinned by love, are the highest and universal criterion of the whole of social ethics. TRUTH We all have a duty to move always towards the truth, to respect it and bear responsible witness to it (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2467). When a community is founded on truth, it is ordered and fruitful and it corresponds to the dignity of all. FREEDOM Freedom is the highest sign in man of his being made in the divine image of God, and consequently, is a sign of the sublime dignity of every human person. It is exercised in relationships between human beings and every person has the natural right to be recognised as a free and responsible human being. The meaning of freedom must not be restricted, such as making it individualistic and reducing it to the exercise of one’s own personal autonomy. Freedom allows the person to fulfil their personal vocation; to seek truth and profess his religious, cultural and political ideas; to express his opinions; to choose his state of life and, as far as possible, his line of work; to pursue initiatives of an economic, social or political nature (all within the limits imposed by the common good and public order). Freedom also includes the capacity to refuse what is morally negative. JUSTICE St Thomas Aquinas wrote that justice “consists of the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour.” It is behaviour that is based on the will to recognise the other as a person. So, what is just is not determined by the law but by the profound identity of the human being. THE WAY OF LOVE Love, often restricted to relationships of physical closeness, must be reconsidered in the authentic value as the highest and universal criterion of the whole of social ethics. It is from the wellspring of love that the values of truth, freedom and justice are born and grow. Human life in society is ordered, bears fruit of goodness and responds to human dignity when it is founded on truth; when it is lived in justice, and animated by selflessness. Love presupposes and transcends justice, which must find its fulfilment in charity. No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever succeed in persuading men and peoples to live in unity, brotherhood and peace; no line of reasoning will ever be able to surpass the appeal of love. Only love can animate and shape social interaction moving it towards peace in the context of a world that is ever more complex. St Thomas Aquinas said that “love is delight in what is good; the proper object of love is the good. To love is to wish good to someone.”
Pat Utomi
Peter Agbontaen