Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church…

…judges Francis’ idea on the role of the Church

  • The Church’s social doctrine interprets realities based on their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching

The Church’s social doctrine “belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology”. It cannot be defined according to socio-economic parameters. It is not an ideological or pragmatic system intended to define and generate economic, political and social relationships, but is a category unto itself. It is “the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church’s tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behaviour”. (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 72)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s moral teaching

  • The Church’s social doctrine is of a theological and not an ideological nature – it is aimed at guiding people’s behaviour

The Church’s social doctrine “belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology”. It cannot be defined according to socio-economic parameters. It is not an ideological or pragmatic system intended to define and generate economic, political and social relationships, but is a category unto itself. It is “the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church’s tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior”. The Church’s social doctrine is therefore of a theological nature, specifically theological-moral, “since it is a doctrine aimed at guiding people’s behavior”. “This teaching … is to be found at the crossroads where Christian life and conscience come into contact with the real world. [It] is seen in the efforts of individuals, families, people involved in cultural and social life, as well as politicians and statesmen to give it a concrete form and application in history.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 7273)

…judges Francis’ idea on family

  • Making ‘de facto unions’ legally equivalent to the family discredits the model of the family

Making ‘de facto unions’ legally equivalent to the family would discredit the model of the family, which cannot be brought about in a precarious relationship between persons but only in a permanent union originating in marriage, that is, in a covenant between one man and one women, founded on the mutual and free choice that entails full conjugal communion oriented towards procreation. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 227)

  • Homosexual unions will never be ‘matrimony’ or ‘family’

Connected with de facto unions is the particular problem concerning demands for the legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons, which is increasingly the topic of public debate.[…] It is only in the union of two sexually different persons that the individual can achieve perfection in a synthesis of unity and mutual psychophysical completion’. Homosexual persons are to be fully respected in their human dignity and encouraged to follow God’s plan with particular attention in the exercise of chastity. This duty calling for respect does not justify the legitimization of behaviour that is not consistent with moral law, even less does it justify the recognition of a right to marriage between persons of the same sex and its being considered equivalent to the family. ‘If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.’ (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, no. 228)

…judges Francis’ idea on the social doctrine of the Church

  • In the Church’s social doctrine, the Magisterium is at work in all its various components and expressions – this obligates the faithful to adhere to it

In the Church’s social doctrine the Magisterium is at work in all its various components and expressions. Of primary importance is the universal Magisterium of the Pope and the Council: this is the Magisterium that determines the direction and gives marks of the development of this social doctrine. This doctrine in turn is integrated into the Magisterium of the Bishops who, in the concrete and particular situations of the many different local circumstances, give precise definition to this teaching, translating it and putting it into practice (cf. Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 3-5). The social teaching of the Bishops offers valid contributions and impetus to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. In this way, there is a circulating at work that in fact expresses the collegiality of the Church’s Pastors united to the Pope in the Church’s social teaching. The doctrinal body that emerges includes and integrates in this fashion the universal teaching of the Popes and the particular teaching of the Bishops. Insofar as it is part of the Church’s moral teaching, the Church’s social doctrine has the same dignity and authority as her moral teaching. It is authentic Magisterium, which obligates the faithful to adhere to it (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2037). The doctrinal weight of the different teachings and the assent required are determined by the nature of the particular teachings, by their level of independence from contingent and variable elements, and by the frequency with which they are invoked (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis, 16-17, 23). (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 80, May 26, 2008)

  • The Social Doctrine of the Church does not depend on the different cultures or ideologies. It is not conditioned by history nor runs the risk of fading away

It shows above all the continuity of a teaching that refers to the universal values drawn from Revelation and human nature. For this reason the Church’s social doctrine does not depend on the different cultures, ideologies or opinions; it is a constant teaching that ‘remains identical in its fundamental inspiration, in its principles of reflection’, in its ‘criteria of judgment’, in its basic ‘directives for action’, and above all in its vital link with the Gospel of the Lord’ (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 3). This is the foundational and permanent nucleus of the Church’s social doctrine, by which it moves through history without being conditioned by history or running the risk of fading away. (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 85, May 26, 2008)

…judges Francis’ words that it was not an offense accepting the Cross in the form of a communist symbol

  • Pius XI described communism as ‘intrinsically perverse’

With the Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris, on atheistic communism and Christian social doctrine, Pope Pius XI offered a systematic criticism of communism, describing it as “intrinsically perverse”, and indicated that the principal means for correcting the evils perpetrated by it could be found in the renewal of Christian life, the practice of evangelical charity, the fulfilment of the duties of justice at both the interpersonal and social levels in relation to the common good, and the institutionalization of professional and interprofessional groups. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 92, May 26, 2006)

…judges Francis’ ideas on faith being revolutionary

  • To refuses to obey authority is to resist God, who appointed it

Authority that governs according to reason places citizens in a relationship not so much of subjection to another person as of obedience to the moral order and, therefore, to God himself who is its ultimate source (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris). Whoever refuses to obey an authority that is acting in accordance with the moral order ‘resists what God has appointed’ (Rom 13:2). Analogously, whenever public authority — which has its foundation in human nature and belongs to the order pre-ordained by God (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 74) — fails to seek the common good, it abandons its proper purpose and so delegitimizes itself. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 398, June 29, 2004)

…judges Francis’ ideas present in Laudate Si

  • Science and technology are not of themselves the cause of the exasperated secularization that leads to nihilism; the problem is the evolutionist rejection Creation and the rupture of man with the Creator

Primacy is given to doing and having rather than to being, and this causes serious forms of human alienation. Such attitudes do not arise from scientific and technological research but from scientism and technocratic ideologies that tend to condition such research. The advances of science and technology do not eliminate the need for transcendence and are not of themselves the cause of the exasperated secularization that leads to nihilism. With the progress of science and technology, questions as to their meaning increase and give rise to an ever greater need to respect the transcendent dimension of the human person and creation itself. […] A vision of man and things that is sundered from any reference to the transcendent has led to the rejection of the concept of creation and to the attribution of a completely independent existence to man and nature. The bonds that unite the world to God have thus been broken. This rupture has also resulted in separating man from the world and, more radically, has impoverished man’s very identity. Human beings find themselves thinking that they are foreign to the environmental context in which they live. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 462; 464)

  • One must not absolutize nature and place it above the dignity of the human person himself, divinizing nature or the earth

A correct understanding of the environment prevents the utilitarian reduction of nature to a mere object to be manipulated and exploited. At the same time, it must not absolutize nature and place it above the dignity of the human person himself. In this latter case, one can go so far as to divinize nature or the earth, as can readily be seen in certain ecological movements that seek to gain an internationally guaranteed institutional status for their beliefs. The Magisterium finds the motivation for its opposition to a concept of the environment based on ecocentrism and on biocentrism. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 463)

  • Man, created in God’s image, received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all that it contains, such that man himself and the totality of things be turned to the Lord and Creator of all

The biblical vision inspires the behavior of Christians in relation to their use of the earth, and also with regard to the advances of science and technology. The Second Vatican Council affirmed that man ‘judges rightly that by his intellect he surpasses the material universe, for he shares in the light of the divine mind’. The Council Fathers recognized the progress made thanks to the tireless application of human genius down the centuries, whether in the empirical sciences, the technological disciplines or the liberal arts. Today, ‘especially with the help of science and technology, man has extended his mastery over nearly the whole of nature and continues to do so’. For man, ‘created in God’s image, received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all that it contains, and to govern the world with justice and holiness, a mandate to relate himself and the totality of things to him who was to be acknowledged as the Lord and Creator of all. Thus, by the subjection of all things to man, the name of God would be wonderful in all the earth.’ [The Council teaches that] ‘throughout the course of the centuries, men have labored to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: considered in itself, this human activity accords with God’s will’. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 456)

  • In interior life, man discovers that he is superior to the material world, having ‘a spiritual and immortal soul’ and is not merely a pantheistic speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man

Through his spirituality man moves beyond the realm of mere things and plunges into the innermost structure of reality. When he enters into his own heart, that is, when he reflects on his destiny, he discovers that he is superior to the material world because of his unique dignity as one who converses with God, under whose gaze he makes decisions about his life. In his inner life he recognizes that the person has ‘a spiritual and immortal soul’ and he knows that the person is not merely ‘a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man’. Therefore, man has two different characteristics: he is a material being, linked to this world by his body, and he is a spiritual being, open to transcendence and to the discovery of ‘more penetrating truths’, thanks to his intellect, by which ‘he shares in the light of the divine mind’. The Church affirms: ‘The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature’. Neither the spiritualism that despises the reality of the body nor the materialism that considers the spirit a mere manifestation of the material do justice to the complex nature, to the totality or to the unity of the human being. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 127-128)

  • God himself willed that man be the king of creation. The biblical message and the Church’s Magisterium represent the essential reference points for evaluating the problems found in the relationship between man and the environment

If man intervenes in nature without abusing it or damaging it, we can say that he ‘intervenes not in order to modify nature but to foster its development in its own life, that of the creation that God intended. While working in this obviously delicate area, the researcher adheres to the design of God. God willed that man be the king of creation’. In the end, it is God himself who offers to men and women the honour of cooperating with the full force of their intelligence in the work of creation. The biblical message and the Church’s Magisterium represent the essential reference points for evaluating the problems found in the relationship between man and the environment. The underlying cause of these problems can be seen in man’s pretension of exercising unconditional dominion over things, heedless of any moral considerations which, on the contrary, must distinguish all human activity. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 460-461)

  • Only in dialogue with God does the human being find his truth, from which he draws inspiration and norms to make plans for the future of the world

The relationship of man with the world is a constitutive part of his human identity. This relationship is in turn the result of another still deeper relationship between man and God. The Lord has made the human person to be a partner with him in dialogue. Only in dialogue with God does the human being find his truth, from which he draws inspiration and norms to make plans for the future of the world, which is the garden that God has given him to keep and till (cf. Gen 2: 15). Not even sin could remove this duty, although it weighed down this exalted work with pain and suffering (cf. Gen 3:17-19). (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 452)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Pope should not judge

  • Duty to respect homosexual persons, but without legitimizing behavior opposed to moral law

Homosexual persons are to be fully respected in their human dignity and encouraged to follow God’s plan with particular attention in the exercise of chastity (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2359). This duty calling for respect does not justify the legitimization of behaviour that is not consistent with moral law, even less does it justify the recognition of a right to marriage between persons of the same sex and its being considered equivalent to the family (cf. John Paul II, Address to Spanish Bishops on their Ad Limina Visit (19 February 1998); Pontifical Council for the Family, Family, Marriage and de facto unions (26 July 2000); Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (3 June 2003). (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 228)

…judges Francis’ idea on selling off churches to feed the poor

  • Caution with ideological positions: the illusion that it is possible to entirely eliminate the problem of poverty

Human misery is a clear sign of man’s natural condition of frailty and of his need for salvation. Christ the Saviour showed compassion in this regard, identifying himself with the ‘least’ among men (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). ‘It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When ‘the poor have the good news preached to them’ (Mt 11:5), it is a sign of Christ’s presence’.
Jesus says: ‘You always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me’ (Mt 26:11; cf. Mk 14:7; Jn 12:8). He makes this statement not to contrast the attention due to him with service of the poor. Christian realism, while appreciating on the one hand the praiseworthy efforts being made to defeat poverty, is cautious on the other hand regarding ideological positions and Messianistic beliefs that sustain the illusion that it is possible to eliminate the problem of poverty completely from this world. This will happen only upon Christ’s return, when he will be with us once more, for ever. In the meantime, the poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time (cf. Mt 25:31-46). (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 183)

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