Helping the poor stems from a long tradition dating back to when Christ walked the earth, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. Catholics today embrace this practice in myriad ways as parishes strive to incorporate belief into action. This is accomplished on a local level in the parish and through a wider spectrum, embracing the multitude of human concerns that exist in the world today.
Catholic Social Teaching embraces the dignity of every human person. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops illustrates some of the major themes of Catholic Social Teaching. These themes include Life and Dignity of the Human Person, a Call to Family, Community and Participation, Rights and Responsibilities, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, Solidarity and Care for God’s Creation. By providing a clear definition of social teaching, Catholics are enabled in finding ways to provide for the needs of their communities’ most vulnerable inhabitants.
Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston have found many ways to participate in Catholic Social Teaching locally, nationally and internationally. One of the many local advocates in the Archdiocese of Boston for the poor is Cor Unum Meal Center which “feeds hungry people in Lawrence, MA, one of the economically poorest cities in the United States.” With fundraisers like “Labels Are For Jars”, Cor Unum has served more than 400,000 meals during the past three years. At the local, national and international levels, parishes can contribute to Catholic Charities, with a strong mission that has lasted more than 100 years, and Catholic Relief Services – that not only provide charity, but also promote understanding and legislative reform.
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC), specifically through its Social Justice Committee, is working to create multiple other ways for parishes to deepen their understanding of Catholic Social Teaching and to collaborate more effectively with people in other parishes and in Archdiocesan agencies – to promote priority issues, for example, support for refugees and immigrants. The Committee, led by Pat Dinneen, has already started compiling a database of almost 200 social justice programs throughout the Archdiocese. Dinneen explains that “Cardinal Seàn’s goal is for each parish to have a Social Justice Committee.” She continues “There is tremendous energy and enthusiasm when Catholics come together to connect faith with action in the service of justice.”
A great example of this energy and enthusiasm occurs during the annual Archdiocesan Justice Convocation Representatives from each parish come together with the objectives including education on Catholic Social Teaching, awareness of the work underway as well as the sharing of best practices, and networking to facilitate collaboration. The Convocation is sponsored by the Secretariat for Health and Social Services and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC).
More information regarding Catholic Social Teaching can be found in the links provided below.