The RCC and social justice

I’ve been hearing abit about Catholics and Catholic movements that are friendly and supportive of the philosophy of “Social Justice.” I admit to not know much about “social justice”. Words that come to mind when I hear about SJ are, racist ( afirmative action by defination is racist ) , wealth reditribution, Marxism. Am I off the mark? If not , how does any Catholic support such a movement, let alone an American? Does the RCC have an official opinion on this?

Hi Yankee. I think that yes, you are “off the mark”. The Catholic Church has a strong tradition and call for the poor and the needy. Catholic Social Teaching is very clear about the place of justice and we are all called to look for it. Now, Marxism, comunism or blind capitalism are not in line with Catholic teachings. Please llok at the following link for further information about the Catholic teachings on Social Justice:

Thanks FK04US, but without being a paid member, I couldn’t get any info from that website, but if the RCC’s understanding of social justice is the same as my understanding of " SJ", and the RCC supports that movement…I need to learn more about this.

I just came from Wikipedia. Within the definition of Social Justice is the promotion of wealth redistribution , property redistribution, progressive taxation…ect. I was right on the mark. In my mind, these are unjust, unethical and immoral ideals. I don’ t see how the RCC could sign onto this. I reject it. I don’t know where that leaves me with the Church.

Don’t you think you should maybe read what the Church has to say about social justice (and not some definition from Wiki) before you decide to reject it? Maybe start with some of the ‘social justice’ encyclicals.

You are right, of course. Thank you.

Wealth redistribution has always been a tenent of Catholic teaching. Whether that redistribution should be established through the government or by other means is not set out definitively in doctrine. On the other hand, since at least the 19th century, the Church has recognized that there are important roles for the government, especially given that modern states are powerful, nearly omni-present, and mostly controlled by the wealthy. Pope Leo XIII said:

Still, when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.

Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891.

Pope Paul VI extends this teaching in Populorum Progessio:

No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.”

At the same time, the Church doesn’t say how to accomplish the goal:

The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim “to interfere in any way in the politics of States.”

Caritas in Veritate

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