The Social Justice Ministry seeks to promote the Catholic Church’s teaching on social justice in our parish and community through education, advocacy, and outreach to those in need. The ministry’s decisions and actions reflect the United States Catholic Bishops’ Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, which provide a guide to building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.
The following are examples of the efforts the ministry sponsors or supports:
- Manta Ministry — St. John Neumann’s partnership with the Niño Jesus Parish in Manta, Ecuador
- Parish’s Hypothermia Shelter Program
- Annual Christmas Fair Trade Bazaar
- Parish’s use of Fair Trade coffee
- Reston’s Interfaith mentoring program
- Parish’s environmental effort
- Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE)—a Northern Virginia advocacy organization that seeks to promote social justice
- Social Action Linking Together (SALT)—a parish-based network in the Arlington Diocese that seeks to bring the social and economic teaching of the Catholic Church to bear on public policy and legislation
- Stand-Up Against Poverty—an annual global effort to end poverty
Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. We believe every human life is sacred from conception to natural death, people are more important than things, and the measure of every institution is whether it protects and respects the life and dignity of the human person.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The God-given institutions of marriage--a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman--and family are central and serve as the foundations for social life. Every person also has a right to participate in social, economic, and political life and a corresponding duty to work for the advancement of the common good and the well-being of all, especially the poor and weak.
Rights and Responsibilities
Every person has a fundamental right to life .…. and to the conditions for living a decent life-faith and family life, food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing. We also have a duty to secure and respect these rights not only for ourselves, but also for others, and to fulfill our responsibilities to our families, to each other, and to the larger society.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Scripture teaches that God has a special concern for the poor and vulnerable. The Church calls on all of us to embrace this preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, to embody it in our lives, and to work to have it shape public policies and priorities. A fundamental measure of our society is how we care for and stand with the poor and vulnerable.
Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers, owners, and others must be respected-the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and choose to join a union, to economic initiative, and to ownership and private property.
We are one human family. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we be "sentinels of peace" in a world wounded by violence and conflict.
Caring for God's Creation
The world that God created has been entrusted to us. Our stewardship of the Earth is a form of participation in God's act of creating and sustaining the world. In our use of creation, we must be guided by a concern for generations to come.
(Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility", September 2003)
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