Social Doctrine Touted as More Than "a List of Good Feelings"

Vatican Official Warns of Its Weak Use by Catholics

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ROME, DEC. 15, 2004 ( The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says that «the unity between faith and reason in Christ» and love are the foundations of the Church’s social doctrine.

Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi expressed this conviction Tuesday when opening a meeting to present to ecclesial associations and movements the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The volume was published in October.

The meeting, attended by representatives of Catholic labor unions, Catholic Action and other movements and groups, was organized by the Italian bishops’ Department of Social Pastoral Care and Labor.

The secretary of the pontifical council defined the Church’s social doctrine as «the ‘scandalous’ pretension to make faith and the demands of reason meet in Jesus Christ, and to seek a vital synthesis between the Christian proclamation and the authentic reality of the human person.»

Bishop Crepaldi said that «the Compendium puts all the corpus of the social doctrine of the Church in the hands of Christian and intellectual communities, study and research centers, associations and movements, so that they will not understand it as a list of good feelings, but as truth that must be turned into love, inscribed in modern culture.»

The bishop refuted the idea of conceiving of social doctrine as «a list of values understood as generic ethical exigencies,» and criticized «modern culture that induces Catholics toward this weak use of the Church’s social doctrine.»

«When Catholics are incapable of accepting their own faith as truth, Christianity as ‘religio vera’ [true religion], they will not be able, either, to appreciate the universal value of the social doctrine itself and will interpret it only as one more contribution,» lamented the secretary of the Vatican dicastery.

Bishop Crepaldi insisted that the social doctrine invites Catholics to unity.

It is true that «good can be done in many ways,» he said. Yet, «it must not be forgotten that the praxis of Christians must also show the same faith and the same patrimony of principles of reflection, criteria of judgment, and directives of action; namely, it must show reference to one same social doctrine of the Church.»

He concluded: «The action of lay Catholics must be conduct ‘in the faith of the Church.'»

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