Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the Occupy Movement (OWS): a series of reflections on basic principles of CST in light of the concerns and issues central to the OWS movement
Introduction – for just such a time as this
by MT Dávila
The social teaching of the Christian churches represents efforts by diverse church authorities to engage the basic principles of Christian doctrine – love of neighbor, gratuitous love, reconciliation, salvation and liberation from sin, prophetic witness, etc. – with contemporary concerns affecting the human family, from the local to the global levels of interrelationship. It includes a variety of documents, study guides, reflections, resolutions, and other resources prompted by political, economic, cultural, and other social concerns. The Roman Catholic Church offers a rich and lengthy tradition of social teachings to its faithful and all people. Through over 100 years, Catholic Social Teaching (CST) has developed the following ten basic principles for reflection on the Christian life of faith and the social life of the human family:
1. Human dignity
2. Option for the poor
4. Dignity of the worker/labor
5. Dignity of the environment
6. Family life
8. Integral development
9. Subsidiarity, participation, and the role of government
10. Property rights and responsibilities
According to the first Declaration from the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street, basic concerns of the movement include the growing divide between the very rich and the rest of society, the growing influence of corporations over politics and policy over above the influence of persons, environmental degradation and lack of environmental protections and regulations, lack of regulations in the banking and finance industries and the economic damage this generates, job vulnerability and unemployment, the ever increasing urge to remove the social safety net from the most vulnerable in our society in order to balance the nation’s budget, and other economic and political concerns. In my estimation the concerns expressed in the declaration – as well as many of the testimonies reflected in signs and posters throughout the demonstrations – have a kinship or likeness to the principles of CST. In light of this, I and other Catholic ethicists and theologians are moved to reflect on what this moment and movement in history means in light of these basic principles. I hope these reflections provide initial thoughts to guide conversations at the parish level, in homes, and at schools of theology, as well as serve as a ready resource for preaching and leading communities into a discipleship that honors the social teaching of the Catholic church.
MT Dávila is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School. This is the introduction to a series of ten posts, which currently includes: this Introduction and “Human Dignity and the Occupy Movement“.