What is Catholic Social Justice?

All too often I hear politicians talking about Social Justice and I know this is wrong, since Marxism and Socialism is completely against Catholic teaching (in general terms, of course!:D)

What I am asking is: how would proper Catholic Social Justice manifest itself? Would it be capitalist or distributist ( “third way” combination of Socialism and Capitalism? Would the Federal government operate large socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare or would that be the responsibility of the community first?
Please add your interpretation here as well.

Also, can anybody refer a good Catholic site that teaches Social Justice or give a good rundown on what it is all about?


“Our Sunday Visitor” had a really good insert on this a few weeks ago. osv.com/ParishNav/MonthlyParishColumns/AdultEducation/May2007/tabid/3047/Default.aspx

Catholic social teaching focuses on the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. Hope this helps.

Research the writtings of Pope Leo XIII

Yeah, this is definitely a good start. Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo is a good start. Check out Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno, which was written to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Leo’s aforementioned encyclical.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_teachings_of_the_papacy This link will point you to all the major encyclicals, actually.

My definition of Catholic Social Justice would be…

  1. Defense of the unborn
  2. Dignity for the sick, elderly, infirm, disabled
  3. Aid and shelter for the poor and destitute

In a nutshell, respect and dignity for all human life, from conception until natural death, including the frozen embryos sitting in a lab somewhere, just waiting for mommy and daddy (or mommy and mommy) to decide whether or not they will fit into their lives.

My definition of Catholic Social Justice DOES NOT include marriage rights for homosexuals, a woman’s right to choose (it’s her body, ya know!), taxpayer funding of abortion clinics and embryonic stem cell research centers.

The more I read about *Catholic *social justice, the more I see that it is like velvet. You know how if you run your hand over velvet one way, it’s all messed up, but if you run your hand the other way, it’s nice and neat?

CSJ is where everyone is headed in the same direction (Heaven!), and everyone is helping everyone get there. Since the goal for each person is holiness, then instead of each person looking out only for himself, each person is looking out for others, while maintaining an eye upon himself.

So, in CSJ, there are no “special interest groups,” since each person is interested in helping everyone else out. Those who have “received more” “give more:” a person with a better education would not use that to make more money for himself in his business but to help his employees more; when he has more money, to help the poor out, etc.

Since each person is trying to please God, those with a vocation to marriage, which creates more human beings for God, will have as many children as they can, and others will help them in their vocation of parenthood.

Think of the way a very small tight-knit parish would work. The people of the parish would all support the school, because the school is helping the parents raise up children for God. There would be enough children that the parents wouldn’t feel the need to push them away from the religious life. Some of the children would grow up and become religious: dedicating themselves to the priesthood, or to prayer, or to serving others: the elderly, the ill, the poor, the students; others would grow up to the married life themselves; still others to dedicate themselves to knowledge and learning.

Here is an example of a business (unfortunately not Catholic, but only because this is what I could find quickly on the internet–I myself worked for some Catholics who really cared about their employees, but they are not online!), and here is an example of a Catholic town taking care of mentally ill people, here an example of religious caring for the ill (altho the monastic nature of the leprosaria is not mentioned :shrug:).

Catholicism has made many contributions to science–in part because of the education and focus of those in religious life. (Here is a quick story about Louis Pasteur which always makes me smile.)

Distributionism, while definitely a third way, is not a combination of socialism and capitalism. That would be a misunderstanding. Socialism, in its proper form, is wrong. It denies the right to private ownership of property, which is explicitly contradictory to Catholic social justice teaching. Socialism also, in every form ever devised, goes against the principal of subsiditarity.
Social security and medicare are not purely socialist programs. They also, do not necesarily contradict catholic social justice teaching. One can definitely make the case that the implementation of these programs does contradict some aspects of social justice teaching in the church.
The church has not advocated any economic system as the “right” way of doing things. Distributionism itself was originally devised by people working under the guidelines of church teaching, in particular Rerum Novarum. The church has condemned certain economic systems.
I strongle recommend anyone interested in this topc to read Rerum Novarum and to purchase the book:


Indeed. So general that you aren’t making any sense. You don’t explain *specifically *what in the “social justice” of which these politicians speak is contrary to Catholic teaching. Simply identifying social justice with “socialism” and stating that socialism is contrary to Catholic teaching accomplishes nothing. It’s a completely empty claim, because you haven’t defined at any point just what makes “social justice” socialism and/or what about socialism makes it incompatible with Catholicism.

It seems to me that what most American politicians mean by “social justice” is thoroughly compatible with Catholic teaching and would be taken for granted by most European Catholics, including the Pope.


What is most disheartening is listening to some people react to injustice, as if it is God’s punishment for their sins or the sins of their parents, not the sins of people whose hearts are made of stone. Jesus lived in a society conquered by the Romans, and the upper class of Jewish society collaborated with the Romans to exploit the low classes. Jesus challenged everybody to change their attitude about the less fortunate, and then do something about it.
It is easy to forget the sins of our forefathers who conquered the Native Americans, who bought and sold African slaves, who conquered the West, and now the middle class Americans complain about the lazy, shiftless Native, African and Hispanic Americans. Likewise, in other societies, the peoples who were previously conquered centuries ago now live in poverty. Perpetual hopeless poverty is the breeding ground for violent revolutions in which nobody wins. Jesus is a real radical; He said nobody is a slave, a conquered person, and that each person is redeemed by His blood. Unfortunately, the poor have the mind-set that they are worthless by birth, and we Christians have the duty to “give a poor man a fish in the evening for supper, and to teach him how to fish for food in the morning”. Did not Jesus say He would turn away those who never gave Him food, drink, clothing, and who did not visit Him in prison?
We are called to empower the poor so they can lift themselves out of poverty. This means a good solid education and opportunities for all. In the ghettos, reservations, and the Southwest, why are there not any businesses located there to provide jobs, and why is drug dealing so lucrative? Perhaps the illegal drug problem is due to so much corruption all the way up the line?

The best source for information on Catholic Social Teaching is the Vatican web site of the COMPENDIUM OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH: vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html


You aren’t making any sense because we don’t know what your perception is of what American politicians mean by “social justice” and how it “would be taken for granted by most European Catholics, including the Pope.”

Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine


This is also a good link


What brought on that statement? You don’t seem to care much for middle class Americans.Especially white ones, as you left them out of your oppressed category.

You obviously see people’s race as a big deal. Social justice does not allow me to look at people that way. Every human being is my brother or sister. Their ancestry is of no concern to me or any other socially aware person. Why would I judge a person based on their blood line or how much money they make. Why the hate dude?
I’m white and I’m middle class. Why do you think you know what I think or feel or believe based on that description? Are you racially profiling me?

Why aren’t you out in the southwest providing those services? Maybe that is what God’s calling is for you as you are obviously passionate about it. You can sell your computer and buy a ticket to Arizona or New Mexico and start helping others. Go out there and get those businesses to hire some people, then the owner of the business won’t have to work so hard. I wish you well.

Ed did not focus on race and ethnicity since he posted only one sentence about it and these circumstances do not seem to merit your hypersensitive defensive reaction. I guess I have a very severe deficient in reading comprehension because I am unable to read between the lines of Ed’s post since I could not detect the sentiment of “hate” in it.

BTW, if you really are deeply interested in white middle class ethnic interests and topics such as “white dispossession”, I invite you read The Occidental Quarterly and The Occidental Observer which has some material that you will appreciate and enjoy reading. (I do not consider myself a white nationalist but I do value those resources for providing a well-reasoned politically incorrect contrarian perspective even if it does not conform with my political views.)

So how are white middle class people being “oppressed”? I am not denying that experience adversity or have legitimate grievances today , but I only ask because I am curious to see your position on this issue.

Much is advocated in this country under the “guise of social justice”. Many politicians advocating social justice also advocate abortion rights. How is this compatible? It is political. We are being driven toward a European-type socialism along with redistribution of wealth. Socialism has no respect for the individual rights of man nor does it respect God.

Indeed, but I’m not trying to make an argument about that here, just throw out one opinion in response to another.

In other words, many folks have the perception (which they do not define or substantiate) that when American politicians talk about “social justice” they are talking about “socialism” in the sense condemned by the Church. I have a very different perception. If I were the one initiating a thread which assumed my perception to be true, I hope you would challenge me to substantiate my opinion.

But I’m not doing that here.

It is the person making the initial assertion who needs to shoulder the burden of proof. One of the most frustrating tactics on the Internet is shifting the burden of proof to the challenger. As in “I have heard someone say X–now can anyone refute this claim?”

Or, more insultingly, “Go do your research and you will see that X is obviously true.”


I was not asking you to prove anything; I was hoping you would explain your perception of what the politician means when he talks about “social justice”.

It is the person making the initial assertion who needs to shoulder the burden of proof. One of the most frustrating tactics on the Internet is shifting the burden of proof to the challenger. As in “I have heard someone say X–now can anyone refute this claim?”

Or, more insultingly, “Go do your research and you will see that X is obviously true.”


Agreed. And I find it ironic that those who try to justify more government welfare programs in the name of Christian social justice are generally the same as those who cry “separation of church and state” when the issue is something else, like a display of the Ten Commandments on government property ACLU v. Mercer Co. KY [ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/05a0477p-06.pdf ]](http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/05a0477p-06.pdf ]).

I should have also stated whites in rural Appalachia are stuck as a group in poverty. The question is why are certain groups such as Appalachian white, rural African, Native, and Hispanic Americans stuck in poverty? After generations of being stuck “in their proper place”, one possible explanation is that member of the underclass groups have given up hope and suffer from very low self-esteem. If one examines the situation in Central and South America, the underclass are the ancestors of the Aztec, Mayans, and Incas who had superior civilizations while Europe was overrun by barbarians. Having been conquered by the Spanish, these once proud civilized people learned their place in society and have been stuck in the underclass; consequently, they illegally come to the United States for work since the economy of Latin America are still stuck in the plantation model of society.
Secondly, one wonders why is public school education seems to be failing in American cities. Local school districts obtain their revenues primarily from the local tax base; nice suburbs have higher property taxes leading to better facilities, better teachers, and have generally better test scores, more high school graduates, and more students who go onto college. It appears that as long as inner city schools have students with very low self esteem, poor facilities and teachers, American society will still have a large underclass in which crime and high unemployment go hand in hand. The middle class pays for this problem in higher taxes to build more prisons and incarcerate more prisoners.
Social justice is primarily empowering the underclass to realize they are not worthless garbage, to educate them, to provide them opportunities to better themselves.

Black Rose,

I was not offended by the post. I was merely poking at the poster who stereotyped middle class white people while accusing them of stereotyping others. Perhaps I should have written " Hello kettle, this is the pot calling." I found that ironic. I also found it ironic that you cast aspersions on my ability to comprehend what I read, as you gramatically butchered the english language in the same sentence. Perhaps it was a typo.

The poster Ed cast aspersions on a group of people. You cast aspersions on my ability to read. Why did you do that? It infers a level af disdain for me. Was it necessary to make your point? Is that in Christian charity? IMO, It says more about you than it does about me. If I did cast aspersions on Ed please show me where and I will apologize.
I learned a long time ago that words mean things. Ed made a very hypocritical statement. I was merely pointing that out. I extrapolated from his inclusion of all races except white that he meant white people. It was a logical conclusion. There are important skills needed for effective reading comprehension. Among these include the ability to infer and to understand the concept of innuendo. My post was intended as a lighthearted poke at Ed for his statement. I find that a much more effective way of pointing out a fault in someone’s statement than casting aspersions on them. My hope was he would read it and see that he was doing what he accused others of doing. I meant it as tongue in cheek. I don’t know if it is my lack of skill at making that clear is to blame or if it is an inability on your part to comprehend that. I will accept the blame as I always do when I am not sure whether something is my fault or not. I suggest you reread my earlier post in light of these points and evaluate, for yourself, your culpability, if any, in the misunderstanding of my intent.

I also was poking Ed a little for stating what other individuals should do. I was taught as a young man that when you say “Somebody should do something” that somebody might as well be me. The same goes for “Why me?”, Well, why should it be someone else? I am never in the position to say what the generic they should do, as Ed did. That is except Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager, who simply does not understand when to pull the starting pitcher, lol. It is legitimate when you are citing an institution. In which case the person needs to try to positively influence that institution if they hope to affect the desired change. They don’t have to try though, but then they probably will not get the desired result.

I don’t care about the plight of any group of people per se, including any grouping I may fall into, such as white and middle class. I have always and will always take each individual human being as they are. I care about individuals, not groups. If people are being persecuted or discriminated against because of a societal grouping they fall into, I will always stand for them. I do what I as an individual can do. Sometimes it is nothing, sometimes it is more than that.
I found it odd that Ed would inject race into the conversation in such strong terms as I do not recall any previous post mentioning race. As a general rule I have found that many people who are preoccupied with race often harbor strong racial animosity towards other groups. That is a general category I don’t know about Ed or anyone else. Perhaps if all the people in the world would look at everyone they come in contact with and see that Christ is in him, instead of the accidents of their birth such as race, ethnicity, and gender the world would be a better place. What makes you human is your body, what makes you in the image of God is your soul.( And free will) The soul of a person is what I try to see, though I often fail. I will keep plugging away.

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