To Act with Justice Micah 6:8
God has told you what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?
Justice and the General Election
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops have written to all New Zealanders about how to wisely vote in the upcoming general election by considering the issues of concern through the light of Catholic Social Teaching. They do not tell people who to vote for. Our vote is made in light of our conscious. However our conscious must be informed. One way to inform our conscious is to look at the wisdom of the Church and its Social Justice teaching. You can download the Bishops’ election statement here. NZCBC_Election_Statement_
What is Catholic Social Teaching?
Catholic Social Teaching sums up the teachings of the Church on issues of justice. It seeks to bring the light of the Gospel to bear on the social justice issues that arise in the complex network of relationships in which we live. A formal body of international Catholic social justice teachings for the modern era has developed since the nineteenth century.
Where does Catholic Social Teaching come from?
Catholic Social Teaching is part of the discipline of applied moral theology and draws on all four major sources of insight used in Catholic ethics: Scripture; reason; tradition; and experience. Tradition, which is often passed on through formal teaching documents, has played such a strong role in Catholic life that sometimes people think of Catholic Social Teaching as just a series of Papal documents.
The social teachings are made up of three distinct elements: principles for reflection; criteria for judgment; and guidelines for action. Each has a different level of authority. The key principles for reflection are sometimes called perennial principles because they apply across every time and place. They are highly authoritative, but also rather abstract and general. International Church documents identify just four of these principles:
- human dignity;
- the common good;
- subsidiarity; and
The guidelines for action can vary for different times and places. Uniform guidelines for action aren’t feasible because societies differ greatly, and they are always changing, creating new situations with different problems and possibilities. Guidelines for action always depend on practical judgments made with the information available at the of what is happening in that particular place and how it will effect people locally. The insights of local Bishops responding to particular issues in their own place help to inform the development of the international teachings, while the international teachings guide the Bishops in teaching on justice issues in their particular places. This is why our Bishop’s write about issues that impact on New Zealand and her people.