Catholic Social Teaching

Wow! It was great to read all the responses to our first blog on the social teachings of the Catholic tradition… I look forward to more fruitful sharing on these essential teachings.

This week our focus is, “Community and the Common Good”

Community and the Common Good:

In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also 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 community. Our Church teaches that the role of the government and other institutions is to protect human life and human dignity and promote the common good. (Archdiocese of St. Paul—Minneapolis)

For many of us this is where the rubber meets the road. When do the needs of my family, friends, or community need to yield to those of the larger community? When does the greater community need to consider the needs of the individual? Being a fan of Star Trek, I am reminded of the death scene of Spock when he states, “sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.” A statement that is reframed in the next movie as Kirk and the crew risk all to bring Spock back to life, “sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many or the few.”

I do not have any easy answers; I think seeking the common good is a delicate balance requiring much prayer and discernment. As a vowed religious sometimes I do have to set my desires aside for the common good of my community—at other times I am aware that my community sets aside time, energy, or resources to meet my needs. Is this not true in marriage and family life as well?

My hope and prayer for all us is that we will continue to make our decisions as individuals and as a nation in light of the common good. Concern for the common good is often an investment in our collective future, meaning that it might cost us time or resources now but the result will be a happier and healthier society.

Finally, I hope as we consider the common good we remember all who share this planet with us—the plants, animals, and natural systems that provide us with a home.

Blessings, and I look forward to your comments!


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