Monday, October 11, 2021
Victor Martell - St. Vincent de Paul Society
All Christians, and especially Vincentians, have the obligation to evangelize, and we must take to heart the Social Doctrine of the Church, because our greatest effort is to try to eradicate, or at least alleviate, poverty in our countries throughout the Americas. Let us remember that the poor are our masters and it is them whom we must love and help by Vincentian obligation. It is necessary to teach our people about this doctrine so that they are not deceived by foreign ideas that only want the State — meaning a few leaders — to manipulate them like puppets, taking away the fundamental rights that every person deserves.
It is not my intention, with these writings, to pretend to be a scholar about this doctrine. My intention is for you and I to learn more about it every day, so that in the near future we can demand that our politicians adopt it as their plan of government.
What does the social doctrine teach us?
In the face of the temptation of indifference and isolationism, the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches us that beyond national, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, economic and ideological differences, we have much more in common: we are brothers and sisters in one human family, and by bringing this into context we can create a better world.
The main objective of the Social Doctrine of the Church is to guide the reflection and conduct of individuals and the entire human community worldwide in the task of building a just and fraternal social order, which contributes to peaceful coexistence and integral human development. This is how we can build that great network of global charity that the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Frederic Ozanam, talked about.
In order for us to study this great task that we have set for ourselves, we are going to break down and copy verbatim what this doctrine teaches us:
The universal destination of goods and the preferential option for the poor:
[182.] The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern. To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force. “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods. Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope of a better future.”
This preferential option is the one that all Christians should adopt when it comes to speaking of profound social changes, and as we study this great teaching we will understand the need and obligation that we have to bring these instructions to our people. It is too bad that we did not do it before, in all churches, ministries and religious groups, since these documents were written hundreds of years ago and our popes have enriched them with many encyclicals, adapting them to modern times.
(To be continued)