Monday, December 3, 2018

Comparison of the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching with the USCCB List

I've been blessed to be a part of a study group of Catholic Social Teaching, which has been a passion of mine since being asked to teach it to high school seniors for 2 years right after I was ordained.

The Church has compiled almost 200 years of Catholic teaching on societies into what is known as the "Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching."  It is a lengthy but very important compilation, and many people throw the phrase "according to Catholic Social Teaching" around but don't appear to have any but the faintest of understanding about what the Church actually teaches. 

"Catholic Social Teaching" is a phrase that a person can use and be fairly sure no one will correct you.  It has even become popular over the past several decades among Catholic politicians seeking to justify every policy under the sun.

What I've put together below is something I consider to be a FASCINATING chart of the major chapters of the Compendium of Catholic Social teaching as compared to the points that the US Bishops highlight as the "7 key points of Catholic Social Teaching"

The reasons I share this is that in reading through the Compendium several times now at this point, I don't see anything that merits singling out any item on the left as being "more important" than any other, with the exception of "The Dignity of the Human Person".  The Church does say all over the place that "The Dignity of the Human Person" is the fundamental principle.  But I'm not sure what would allow SOME of the ones on the left to make the cut and not others.

It is interesting to look at what major points of Catholic Social Teaching on the left did NOT make the cut.

1) The Common Good
2) Universal Destination of All Goods
3) Subsidiarity
4) Fundamental Values of Truth, Freedom and Justice
5) The role of business and economy at the service of humanity
6) The Political Community
7) The International Community
8) Peace, war and just war

A few notes:

1) I would also say I personally prefer "marriage" and "family" getting their own topic versus being combined into one, and I think their phrasing by the Compendium is more dramatically appropriate for our time

2) Some of them, as found as chapters in the Compendium, would need to be reworded before describing them as a key point of Catholic Social Teaching.  You wouldn't just say "A key principle to Catholic Social Teaching" is "The political community".  I wouldn't say, as some might suggest, "well, we left it out because it wasn't phrased well."  My response would be - "rephrase them"

3) I do not want to theorize about why the 8 points listed above did not make the cut, but I think it is a good conversation for people to have - "on what criteria were these 8 excluded, and on what criteria were the 6 (besides dignity of the human person, which clearly belongs) chosen?"

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