Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action

Introduction

Ethics are an unwritten code. They are believed to be imprinted in the core of men, and are a guide in choosing to do the right or wrong thing. They are associated with our conscience, which guides everyone, such that when one is doing or has done something wrong, one is bound to feel guilty.

Liberation as seen in the bible and the church

The book, The Living Justice, talks about the Bible and the many encounters God had with the people of Israel. This was his chosen people, but their lives were not always smooth. They were generations that rose from the house of Joseph and his twelve brothers. The brothers came to Egypt in search of grain and water, in the time of drought.

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They were welcomed by their brother, Joseph, whom they had sold to foreigners, who were passing through their father’s lands. Joseph had then been promoted for his good works through the grace of God, to become Pharaoh’s right hand man.

The household of Jacob continued to grow in Egypt, and the Egyptians became wary of their numbers, and they were taken as slaves. During their time as slaves, they were mistreated. When the worst came to the worst, and their population had grown beyond proportions, Pharaoh gave an order to have all the newborn males killed so that he could reduce the possibility of having Egyptians being toppled by the Israelites (Jones 121).

In the end, God heard their cry and selected Moses to liberate them. He had been brought up with Pharaoh, as his brother, but he had to rise against him. He asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh was adamant and he refused. God then brought upon the Egyptians, the ten plagues that saw them suffer. The final plague, the death of all the Egyptian first borns was the last stroke and Pharaoh finally let up, and decided to let them go.

This shows that God is just and powerful. He fought the battle for the Israelites; they were weak and oppressed. They had lost hope, and He delivered them from the Land of slavery.

Similarly, the church is portrayed as a savior. It is depicted, in several occasions, to come up to to the help of those that are in need and oppressed. For instance, many health care facilities sprouted from the charitable works of the church. They also provide trained personnel and subsidized or free treatment.

Secondly, many schools have been set up by churches to help educate the less fortunate, either for free or at subsidized prices. Thirdly, the church has been seen to come to the aid of those that are dominated over. For instance, they care for the orphans, widows, widowers, the sick and other less privileged people. They counsel them, give them shelter and offer any other service they may require.

The people who mainly offer services in the church are the laymen in the church, nuns, brothers and sisters. The brethren can also volunteer to offer their services. Churches are also involved in the building of children homes and other forms of shelter for the less fortunate. This, therefore, shows that the church tries to offer justice to those that are unlikely to access easy help (Massaro 1-16).

Justice in the Bible and Church

In the case of the Israelites, they were refined through fire and brimstone as they were taken through a wilderness, where they suffered some challenges. It was at this time that they became disobedient and wished they were back in Egypt, where they claimed they had food and drink. This prompted Moses to strike the rock in anger, contrary to what God had told him. This led to Moses not entering the land of Canaan. In addition to that, the Israelites went to the length of worshipping a golden calf made from melted jewels.

This provoked God and He decided that, as a form of punishment, the Israelites would not enter the Promised Land. The subsequent generations are the ones that entered the land.

This shows that wrongs are supposed to be punished. In the same way, the church is involved in the alleviation of immorality. For instance, the Catholic Church may seem a bit too harsh when they excommunicate their church members after they commit fornication. By doing so, they discourage immorality among their congregation especially among the young people.

The church and human rights

The church also propagates the human rights. They recognize all people as equal, and no life is better than the other. It is, consequently, against abortion and the slaying of lives (Curran 56). The Lord gives, and He should, hence, be the one to take. It is also against the execution of convicts. At the end of the day, the church welcomes people of all kinds with open arms. It preaches forgiveness to its congregation.

Controversies

The Catholic Church is on the forefront in the campaigns against abortions. They are justified to be fighting for that voiceless fetus, which cannot speak for itself. The fetus does not have the choice to live or not to live; its fate is decided by the carrier (Himes and Lisa 47).

This may appear unfair, and the gravid mother to be may be crucified as a murderer, but in the Bible, Jesus said in the story of Mary Magdalene that he, who is without sin, should be the first to throw a stone. This goes to show that nobody is perfect. The pregnant mother may be having other children and cannot afford to have another.

She could also be having a detrimental disease like heart failure and cannot carry the pregnancy to term. In such cases, I believe that the church should not impose on the mother to continue carrying the pregnancy as this will compromise both the mother and child. If it were to come to a choice between the two, the mother should be left to survive because she needs to take care of her other children. The pregnancy may also lead to her demise and after that, who will be left to take care of the newborn baby?

The church also preaches forgiveness, but it also acts self righteously when it suspends fornicators form coming to church. The other query would also be why fornication is the only sin that attracts such a punishment, why not murder, adultery, robbery with violence and other acts that would considered as sin. The bible says that all sins are equal; hence, the church goes against it by making some sins seem greater than others.

Works cited

Curran, Charles Edward. Catholic Social Teaching, 1891-present: A Historical, Theological, and Ethical Analysis. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002.

Himes, Kenneth R., and Lisa Sowle Cahill. Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2005.

Jones, Alexander. The Jerusalem Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1966.

Massaro, Thomas. Living justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action. 2nd classroom ed. Lexington, Massachusetts: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.

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