Monday, December 5, 2011

Week Devoted to the Social Teaching of the Church

'Good body', 'nice face', 'very classy' are words that have become popular and are used often by our comedians--a sign of the 'supremacy', some would say, of outward appearance. "When the face is pretty, all is forgiven" is said not entirely in jest--the importance of physical appearance is a reality in our society--these words have been chosen to introduce the book on the social teaching of the Church, issued by the Seoul Diocese. 

However, this is not the way we as Christians should judge outward appearance. We have to rise up against this way of thinking. Seeing reality in this way goes contrary to the will of God. In Sirach 11:2, we read, "Praise not a man for his looks; despise not a man for his appearance." The effort to change this way of thinking is making itself felt with the bishops' decision to include in the Church calendar "Social Teaching Week," following Human Rights Sunday.

Both Catholic weeklies gave Human Rights Sunday and the following week a great deal of space. and were written up in the editorials of both papers. It will be the 30th Human Rights Sunday, but the first week devoted to inculcating in a formal way the teachings of the social Gospel within the liturgical year. Effort is being made to see the different aspects of our life: political, financial, human rights, labor, and so on, in the light of the Gospel and to examine and see what is our response.

The bishop responsible for the Justice and Peace Committee of the Conference writes in his message for Human Rights Sunday that the sudden change to an industrialized culture has brought to the fore the importance of money and the ever-present competition in society. Money, power and honors now precede dignity and life. The weak of society are losing hope, and gloom is spreading.
The effort of the Church is to shine the light of the Gospel into the dark places of the society we have made, to emphasize the law of nature impressed on our conscience, and to bring to our attention the life of virtue, justice and the common good that will inspire us to look for a fuller development of our humanity.
It is hoped that those who have found this way of thinking not to their liking will come to a different understanding with the exposure to this teaching. The bishop quotes from the canon law of the Church (#747): "The Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even concerning the social order, and to make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls."

Because of the way the Church is involved in society, it is hoped that the action of the bishops will help clear up misunderstandings about the social teaching of the Church, and lessen the friction among Catholics in this importance part of the Gospel message. It is also hoped that it will give life and meaning to our call to be the light and salt of the earth.

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