Since 1891 the Church has asserted her “citizenship status”, her right to address the pressing issues facing society. In that year Pope Leo XIII, in his landmark encyclical, Rerum Novarum recognized the Church’s right and duty to deal with the changing realities of public life and to suggest genuine solutions. And, by so doing, he
"created a lasting paradigm for the Church" (CA, 5)
This ‘lasting paradigm’ results from the work of Leo’s successors and various synods coming to us now as the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSD) - whose
“moral vision in this area 'rests on the threefold cornerstone of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity'” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 2 January 1999, 55)
The Catholic Church has done a lot of thinking and reflection on the macro issues: what form of government and economic system is best for promoting human freedom; why must faith be part of the public square; what are the pathologies destroying our culture and how do we fix them; how should we address the issues of developing countries; what are the dangers of a “welfare state”; among many other vexing problems facing modern societies. Catholic Social Doctrine addresses the basic framework of society.
"recognizes...The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible." (DCE, 28)
"The laity have the principal role in the overall fulfillment of this duty." (Dogmatic Constitution on The Church, LUMEN GENTIUM, 21 NOVEMBER 1964, 36)
"It is up to the lay faithful to demonstrate concretely in their personal and family life, in social, cultural and political life that…the fundamental principles of the social doctrine of the Church such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity are extremely relevant and valuable in order to support new paths of development in service to the whole person and to all humanity." (Benedict XVI, Address to the 24th Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, 21 May 2010)
Finally, we must be aware that Catholic Social Doctrine is not just for Catholics, it applies to all - providing a template for confronting society’s many, pressing problems:
"the Church's social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church" (DCE, 27)
With the above as a background, we invite your review of the Church’s evaluation of the various, critical topics listed below.
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