This ministry is rooted in the principles of Catholic Social Teachings. In light of the Gospel message of peace and social justice, we seek to enlighten and empower our community of faith. We are a vibrant group who are called to, PRAY, LEARN and ACT. Our gatherings start with prayer, reflection, discussion, discernment, and action. Topic include, but not be limited to the study of Pope Francis encyclical Fratelli Tutti- “building a better, more just, and peaceful world”, racism, immigration- how do we welcome the stranger, homelessness, and poverty in our community, and care for creation.
Pope Francis in a meeting at the Vatican in 2019 stated “do not be discouraged in (our) commitment to justice for the poor and the care of our common home. It will make it easier to enter into the dynamic of the Beatitudes- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied”. All are welcome, virtual meetings take place every other week on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Prayerfully consider joining us and be an instrument of Our Lord in building His kingdom on earth.
We will post events/notifications periodically. Please see below registration form.
Lord Of All
As I step out the door, show me my neighbor.
As I read the news, show me my neighbor.
As I pray, show me my neighbor.
On my left, on my right, perhaps turning to me right now, show me my neighbor.
Where my eyes have passed before and then turned away, show me my neighbor.
Where my ears have heard cries that I have ignored, show me my neighbor.
As they share a story that is different from my story, show me my neighbor.
Help me listen as if it is my own. Show me my neighbor.
And then let me love them
in their joy and distress.
That their delight be mine and their pain be mine too.
Let me love them as completely and mercifully as you love me.
In true solidarity
Singing our songs together until a new song emerges,
Let me love them.
I look up now, Lord.
Show me, my neighbor.
If you would like to be part of this ministry, please fill out the form below and a representative will contact you. If you have questions or concerns, please email Susana at SMorones@sjnstcharles.org.
Series on Catholic Social Teachings & Drawing Contest
Our St. John Neumann Peace and Social Justice Ministry is excited to share with you the principles of Catholic Social Teaching as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops organize them. The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. For the next seven weeks, follow us while we address in the bulletin each one of the principles and highlight several of the key themes that are the heart of our Catholic social tradition. The seven principles as we will be presenting them are: (1) Life and Dignity of the Human person; (2) Call to Family, Community and Participation; (3) Rights and Responsibilities; (4) Option for the Poor and Vulnerable; (5) The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers; (6) Solidarity; and (7) Care for God’s Creation.
In addition, we would like to invite you and/or your family to a drawing contest. Choose one or more principles and draw a picture that represents that principle to you. What would you draw to represent Life and Dignity of the Human person? You can submit one, two or more drawings representing one or more principles. The drawing that better represents each principle will be posted on our Peace and Social Justice section of the website. Please submit your drawing(s) to Susana Morones at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 9th. For more information about this ministry, contact Graham Woodward at email@example.com.
Principle 1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, the value of human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. Human life is threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. (USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions)
Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus annus], no. 11)
Every individual . . . . is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15). (St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium vitae], no. 3)
Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes], no. 27)
In our society of today, we can clearly identify other forces that compromise the integrity and dignity of human life: poverty, racism, the discrimination of immigrants and refugees, disregard for the disabled, homeless, etc. We are called to live the gospel; to respect every person. This is true of us as individual Catholics and also required of our church as an institution. It can be easy to love my neighbor who looks, thinks, and acts like me, but what about those who do not look like me? Those who may challenge our way of encountering the world? God sent His son to live among us and teach us to treat all we encounter with dignity. Simply put – Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31) Everyone is my neighbor!
Here are some Bible passages that teach us this principle:
- Psalms 139:13-16. God formed each of us and knows us intimately.
- Luke 10:25-37. The Good Samaritan recognized the dignity in the other and cared for his life.
- John 4:1-42. Jesus broke with societal and religious customs to honor the dignity of the Samaritan woman
How would you illustrate this principle? Send us your drawing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Principle 2. Call to Family, Community, and Participation
“The person is not only sacred but social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in the community. Marriage and family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions).
- “The first and fundamental structure for a ‘human ecology’ is the family … founded on marriage, in which husband and wife create an environment in which children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity” (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus], no. 39).
- “The Christian family is called upon to be a sign of unity for the world … by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice, and love” (St. John Paul II, The Family in the Modern World [Familiaris Consortio], no. 48).
- “The family proclaims the Gospel through solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures …” (Pope Francis, On Love in the Family [Amoris Laetitia], no. 290, quoting the Final Report of the Synod of Bishops, 10/24/15).
- “Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium], no. 220, quoting USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Nov. 2007, no. 13).
- “Good government intervention is as that which truly ‘helps’ … contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as ‘the occasion requires and necessity demands’” (USCCB, Economic Justice for All, no. 124
As we read, we are social beings, and family should be the fundamental social unit in our society. As a Christian family, it is not enough to focus solely within or with those like us. We are called to be active citizens, participating within our communities for the common good, open to others of all cultures, with a focus on the poor and vulnerable. Through cooperation, all people should be able to attain their own economic and social development.
Bible verses that teach this principle are:
- Jeremiah 7:5-7 – If you act justly with one another, God will dwell in the land.
- Hebrews 10:24-25 – Rouse one another to love and good works.
- James 2:14-17 – Our faith is dead if we ignore others in need.
- 1 John 3:16-18 – We ought to lay down our lives for one another.
- 1 John 4:19-21 – Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters.
How would you illustrate this principle? Or the Life and Dignity of the Human Person? Send us your art expressions at email@example.com.
Principle 3: Rights and Responsibilities
“The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families, and to the larger society” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions).
“Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common good calls for social peace, the stability, and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice; whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole and the state, in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good” (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’], no. 157).
“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystem services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this, in turn, affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation… Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded” (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’], no. 25).
“As for the State… It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of the condition of the workingman” (St. John XXIII, Christianity and Social Progress (Mater et Magistra), no. 20
As we read, in a just society that leads to social peace, the human rights of its members must be respected and every individual must meet their responsibilities. We are called to look for the common good, to build a society where every human being is respected in their dignity and has the necessary resources to reach their full potential. We are called, ultimately, to care for one another as brothers and sisters with love and compassion.
Bible verses that teach this principle are:
- Leviticus 25:35 – When someone is reduced to poverty, we have an obligation to help.
- Tobit 4:5-11 – Give from what you have received and do not turn away from the poor.
- Proverbs 31:8-9 – Open your mouth to speak on behalf of those in need.
- Isaiah 1:16-17- Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
- Jeremiah 29:4-7 – A legitimate government upholds the rights of the poor and vulnerable
How would you express this principle? Submit your drawing, photo, or art expression at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principle 4: The Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
“The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the joining of unions, to private property, and to the economic initiative” (USCCB, Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, 2005).
“Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today’s global society, it is essential that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment of everyone, no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work” (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si), 127-128).
“In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family” (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate), 63).
Reflecting on the teachings of the bishops, Pope Francis, and Pope Benedict, how do we reconcile society’s emphasis on the accumulation of wealth as a sign of our success or our responsibility to the poor and disenfranchised? I often recall a lesson from a Franciscan Priest: how can we expect people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they have no shoes? Today we are seeing the effects of mass migration from Africa and Central America where there are no jobs or economic means for advancement, lack of education where the people are suffering from mass starvation. We often speak about a “living wage.” How much does a two-parent household have to earn to support three children and live in Kane County?
Bible verses that teach this principle are:
· Exodus 22:20-26 – You shall not oppress the poor or vulnerable. God will hear their cry.
· Isaiah 58:5-7 – True worship is to work for justice and care for the poor and oppressed.
· Matthew 25:34-40 – What you do for the least among you, you do for Jesus.
· Luke 6: 20-23 – Blessed are the poor. Theirs is the kingdom of God.
· John 3: 17-18 – How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees one in need and refuses to help?
How would you illustrate this principle? Send us your drawing, photo, or artwork to email@example.com.
Principle 5: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgement (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
·Exodus 22:20-26 : You shall not oppress the poor or vulnerable. God will hear their cry.
·Leviticus 19:9-10: A portion of the harvest is set aside for the poor and the stranger.
·Job 34:20-28: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
·Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak out in defense of the poor.
·Sirach 4:1-10: Don’t delay giving to those in need.
·Isaiah 25:4-5: God is a refuge for the poor.
·Isaiah 58:5-7: True worship is to work for justice and care for the poor and oppressed.
·Luke 4:16-21: Jesus proclaims his mission: to bring good news to the poor and oppressed.
·“God’s Word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: ‘As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40). The way we treat others has a transcendent dimension: ‘The measure you give will be the measure you get’ (Mt 7:2). It corresponds to the mercy which God has shown us: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you … For the measure you give will be the measure you get back’ (Lk 6:36-38). What these passages make clear is the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters’ as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium], no. 179).
·“‘The Church’s love for the poor … is a part of her constant tradition.’ This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor … ‘Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2444, 2448, quoting Centisimus annus, no. 57, and Libertatis conscientia, no. 68).
·“The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The ’option for the poor,’ therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 88).
·“The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 94).
·“In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (Blessed Paul VI, A Call to Action [Octogesima Adveniens], no. 23).
·“‘He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?’ Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: ‘You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich’” (Blessed Paul VI, On the Development of Peoples [Populorum Progressio], no. 23).
·“Therefore everyone has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for themselves and their family. This has been the opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the church, who taught that people are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. Persons in extreme necessity are entitled to take what they need from the riches of others.”
·“Faced with a world today where so many people are suffering from want, the council asks individuals and governments to remember the saying of the Fathers: ’Feed the people dying of hunger, because if you do not feed them you are killing them,’ and it urges them according to their ability to share and dispose of their goods to help others, above all by giving them aid which will enable them to help and develop themselves” (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes], no. 69).
·“Still, when there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State” (Pope Leo XIII, On the Condition of Labor [Rerum Novarum], no. 37).
This week with the principle of the “Option for the poor and vulnerable,” we are invited to reflect on how are we sharing our goods with our brothers and sisters in need? How are we living our call, as Christians, to look out for the most vulnerable in our community?
How would you illustrate this principle? Send us your drawing, photo, or artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principle 6: Care for Creation
We celebrated Earth Day last week, 51 years after it was instituted in the United States and 31 years after it became a global observance. Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observation in the world, calling people to action for caring for the earth, the home we share.
But did you realize that throughout Catholic Social Teaching, in the writings of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), caring for the earth “is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith”? The bishops go on to say, “We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation.”
Pope Francis, in his encyclical On Care for Our Common Home, says that “concern for the environment … needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings,” taking into account both the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
St. John Paul II, in On the Hundredth Year, warns that “in his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way.” Rather than working with God in creation, “he sets himself up in a place of God … provoking a rebellion on the part of nature.” In his encyclical On Social Concerns, he continues by reminding us that the “dominion granted to man by the Creator” is not freedom to “‘use and misuse’ as one pleases.” Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, implores, “let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.”
The USCCB reminds us that “changes in lifestyle based on traditional moral virtues can lead to a sustainable and equitable world economy … A renewed sense of sacrifice and restraint could make an essential contribution to addressing global climate change” (USCCB, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good).
The Church calls us to care for God’s creation. In fact, taking care of our environment is integral to our faith, even if it means some sacrifices in our lifestyle. Global climate changes affect us all, with the greatest impact on the poor and vulnerable. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Charity in Truth, “the environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”
·Genesis 1:1-31 – God made the heavens and the earth and it was good.
·Genesis 2:15 – Humans are commanded to care for God’s creation.
·Leviticus 25:1-7 – The land itself must be given a rest and not abused.
·Matthew 6:25-34 – God loves and cares for all of creation.
How would you represent our duty to take care of God’s creation through art? Send us your drawings, photos, or artistic expression to email@example.com.