Authentic Christian discipleship and civil citizenship go “hand in glove” for the informed believer. One cannot be a good disciple and an apathetic citizen simultaneously.
The Judeo/Christian matrix of faith, hope and love impels the believer to fully embrace the Second Vatican Council’s declaration in Gaudium et Spes that: “The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the men (and women) of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” (1 G&S). The Church’s Social Tradition and its Social Justice Doctrine offer an extensive meditation on the public, social duties of each person to the common good.
It is part of our vocation as individuals and as a Community to “read the signs of the times” and as Paul VI puts it: “…to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel’s unalterable words and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment and directives for action from the social teaching of the church. (14; Octogesima Adveniens)
The core principles that form the Catholic moral vision are: the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, the rights and corresponding duties known together as “human rights” which include the right to life, and to those conditions that are necessary for the development of the human person and the ability to live a life in conformity with human dignity. These include the right to work and a living wage and acceptable working conditions, the right to organize for justice in the work place, the right to adequate shelter, nourishment, health care, education, association, and participation in the affairs of the community for the sake of the common good.
These are the principles that express the “Catholic moral vision.” They in turn yield laws or policies aimed at translating the vision into social structures in service to the human community and its common good. It is in the application of the principles into laws or policies that men and women of good will may differ, but the principles themselves remain above impeachment. Changing situations may require changes in laws or policies in order to maintain an acceptable application of the moral vision.