Home > Free Essays > Religion > Religion, Culture & Society > Catholic Social Thought
4 min
Cite This

Catholic Social Thought Essay

StarStarStarStarStar

Introduction

In this paper, I will discuss three readings which underpin Catholic social thought on a variety of subject themes outlined below. The readings selected for this purpose are Dr. John F. Johnson’s Can War be Just? Caritas in Veritae by Pope Benedict and Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Each reflective essay aims to give meaningful insight into various aspects of Catholic doctrine, including pacifism, non-violence, social justice, and ethical values.

Johnson, John F. “Can Wars be Just?” Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict 12.1 (1997): 11-21. Print.

The above essay highlights a rare and seldom explored theme in the Catholic canon – war. While most Mass-attending devout Catholic worshippers would flinch at the mere hint of violence, the purpose of this essay is to give an understanding of what conditions can a war be imposed upon aggressors. It has to be kept in mind that the justification for war has been deeply ingrained in mainstream Catholicism, For example, during Crusader history of the 11th-13th centuries, Christian soldiers were shielded by the Pope’s plenary indulgence to carry out unspeakable acts of violence against perceived enemies, in order to reclaim the Holy lands.

However, it must be added that turning the other cheek and loving one’s neighbor is a religious aspect that cannot be divorced from Catholic doctrine. It is very much a part of it. The objective of any just war is to reclaim lost ground and protect people from aggressors. Keeping this in mind, Johnson has suggested that wars are justified under Catholic doctrine as long as they can be categorized under an ethical framework or seen as a last resort (Johnson 15).

So, what may constitute these ethical parameters? For one, Johnson states that the only objective of war should be to reinstitute the previous conditions of peace (Johnson 16). Moreover, under no circumstances, civilians and non-combatants should have to suffer (Johnson 16). Clearly, it would seem that having an enlightened perspective like this would make any decision to go to war much easier than it appears. This is where a few people would stand to disagree.

Johnson suggests a few moral dilemmas which cannot be addressed entirely based on conventional Catholic teaching alone. One of these dilemmas is concerning the availability of various weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear missiles. Can the usage of such dangerous weapons be justified under any grounds? Since the havoc and destruction caused by nuclear weapons are much greater than conventional weapons, can the Catholic church justify its usage under the pretext of self-defense? In a similar manner, what should be the Catholic stance on Christians serving under the ranks of enemy combatants? Clearly, one of the guiding principles of the Catholic rule-book is to obey the earthly authority represented by a Government. What if the government itself is at war with the Catholic church?

Vatican Summary of Encyclical Caritas in Veritate.” Catholic Online. 2009. Web.

The Caritas in Veritate represents the pinnacle of Catholic beliefs on the current world order, a collection of thoughts based on a holy sermon delivered by Pope Benedict. The paper touches on a lot of hot button issues affecting Christians and non-Christians alike globally. These include issues like the elimination of poverty, racism, unequal distribution of resources, current issues related to economic development, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and ending genocide and persecution of human beings in different parts of the world.

In giving out these new sets of instructions, Pope Benedict invokes the Holy Father’s most inspirational message, which constitutes love for all human beings, regardless of their status, class, gender, or other earthly attributes. The Pope preaches that all creatures on Earth is a gift to mankind, and it, consequently, becomes important for proponents of the Catholic faith to spread the message of love and harmony everywhere around (Vatican Summary of Encyclical Caritas in Veritate).

A new issue touched by the Pope is that of technological progress and how new tools such as the Internet can be used to spread education around the world (Vatican Summary of Encyclical Caritas in Veritate). Being sensitive to the needs of the environment is another relevant issue; the Pope draws upon Biblical teachings to announce that Christians are duty-bound to be sensitive to the needs of the environment, making the world a better place through their actions and Communion with the Holy Spirit (Vatican Summary of Encyclical Caritas in Veritate).

It might be a coincidence, but many of Pope Benedict’s instructions are in agreement with the current hot topics popular with world leaders, including globalization, environmental justice, the current financial crisis, and more. The fact that several important political leaders worldwide are in regular consultation with the Pope on matters of international importance gives a degree of Biblical credence to his new set of instructions.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. 2007. USCCB. Web.

The last essay touches on the significant issue of faith and scruples in guiding the political life of Catholics. The issues that have been touched include illegal immigration into the United States, the economic crisis and steepening fiscal deficits, wars and violent conflicts, and the importance of church leaders in joining the ranks of political leaders to bring a positive transformation in their local environments (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).

According to this essay, the fundamental methods that a Christian may use in guiding his discourse for political free will include free conscience, Biblical teachings, prudence, and common sense reasoning United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The onus is on the Christian to always be in the knowledge of doing good, while hesitating from doing evil deeds. At all times, the life and dignity of the human being must be turned into a pivotal consideration in making any moral decisions. As the political year draws to a close, Christians must make a conscious call to take a faith-based stand on abortion issues.

In all, the essay touches on 62 points that reflect a modern Christian’s dilemmas in the political realm. By pursuing Catholic teaching to its best letter and spirit, true Christians may be in a position to build a virtuous life for themselves, and their surroundings.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it may be gathered that Christian doctrine encompasses a wide variety of issues that affect every walk of human life. The onus is on the Christian to identify Biblical teachings relevant to his situation so that he may be able to resolve the dilemmas affecting his moral choices, in a Biblical and dignified way. As the three articles suggest, the use of common-sense reasoning is highly encouraged in Catholic doctrine. It may help the Christian build the identity around the universal Christian guidelines.

Works Cited

Johnson, John F. “Can Wars be Just?” Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict 12.1 (1997): 11-21. Print.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. 2007. USCCB. Web.

“Vatican Summary of Encyclical Caritas in Veritate.” Catholic Online. 2009. Web.

This essay on Catholic Social Thought was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2021, February 22). Catholic Social Thought. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/catholic-social-thought/

Work Cited

"Catholic Social Thought." IvyPanda, 22 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/catholic-social-thought/.

1. IvyPanda. "Catholic Social Thought." February 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/catholic-social-thought/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Catholic Social Thought." February 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/catholic-social-thought/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "Catholic Social Thought." February 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/catholic-social-thought/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Catholic Social Thought'. 22 February.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Hellen
Online
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!