Earlier this week I gave a talk at St. Peter’s parish in St. Paul aimed at giving the parish’s social justice committee and other interested parishioners a basic introduction to the principles of Catholic Social Thought.
I began by talking about the anthropoligical foundations of Catholic social thought, specifically the underlying view of the human person as being both sacred and social and some of the implications flowing from that view of the human person. I then turned to a discussion of the basic principles of Catholic social thought, using the rubric of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops explication of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching. I spent most of the time focusing on the principle of the dignity of the human person, because it is the foundation for the other principles, but also talked about the other principles.
Following my talk, participants spent some time considering the application of the issues to some issues of current public debate (such as immigration reform, health care and taxation levels), first in individual reflection and then in small group discussion. The small group discussion convinced people both of the importance of finding ways to bring the principles of Catholic thought into public discussion and of the difficulty of applying principles to concrete problems. We also talked about how conversations can fruitfully be had with people who possess opposing views. Although the group will have much more to discuss among themselves as the year goes on, it was good start to their efforts as a parish to provide a greater focus on issues of social justice.
You can find a copy of the talk here. (The podcast runs for 49:49.)