by Pearlette Springer
Coordinator of the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team and Ambassador of Peace
“Now the body is not a single part, but many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14
Growing up Catholic in the United States in a predominately Black Catholic Church, I was formed to think that being Catholic was a way of life. Yes, Mass on Sunday was a requirement. Receiving the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation, was a requirement. However … how you lived life outside of those physical Catholic structures was the one true way of being Catholic. Living your faith through prayer, study, and action.
Catholic Social Teaching continues to be one of the best-kept secrets of the Catholic Church. The seven basic themes are interwoven, carrying the same message that leads us to live a moral life that is inclusive of all of God’s creation.
Each theme carries the message of the life and dignity of the human person. That human life is sacred and the foundation of our society. Whether it be a socialist society, a communist society, or a capitalist society, we are no society without the human person.
As the themes of Call to Family, Community, and Participation, and Rights and Responsibilities remind us, there is only one race, and it is the human race. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, “As a body is one though it has many parts… if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it…”
When one part of the human race hurts in Africa, Asia, Russia, Europe, Central America, or here at home, we all hurt. We all suffer.
As individuals, we do have individual rights and responsibilities. As a collective … as a human race … we have the collective right and responsibility for the parts of the body that are weaker or seen as less honorable. As a collective, we are called to the Solidarity of the human race.
Are we not all a creation of our God? Along with the other creatures that roam the earth, the sky, and the waters? The plants and the trees?
The Poor People’s Campaign calls for a moral revival in this country. A revival where we, creatures of the creator, work in solidarity to stand up for those who live in constant and consistent poverty and oppression.
The need for options for the poor and vulnerable and the dignity of work and rights of workers … fair wages for fair labor.
According to the gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, Jesus says that the poor will always be with us. But is Jesus talking about the financially poor or the spiritually poor?
It is not those who are poor in spirit that are the root cause of those being poor financially?
As a country, we have come a long way in our understanding of what it means to be Christian.
We tend to forget that this country was built upon Christian beliefs, even though they were distorted, to say the least.
But as a people, we have grown, we have learned, and we have deepened our understanding of who we are and whose we are.
As Paul stated in his first letter to the Corinthians:
“Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.”
So, let us move forward collectively and work towards caring for those considered the weakest part of the body, caring for those considered the less honorable parts of the body …
So, let us move forward and collectively work to address the needs of our brothers and sisters. To collectively work to realize our true selves.
And remember … we run one race, the human race.
Photo from Poor People’s Campaign August 2021 event by Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service
2 thoughts on “Catholic Social Teaching and the Poor People’s Campaign”
Excellent! Thank you so much for the clarity of your thoughts. Take care, Margaret
Thank you 🙏 sister Pearlette. You made my day!