Catholic Focus - Words of Jesus: Catholic Social Justice

catholic social teaching is a central part of our faith it embraces the dignity of each human being more than that it plays an important role in our way of life it has its roots in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice it is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus who came to bring glad tidings to the poor Liberty to captives and the recovery of sight to the blind he identified himself with the least of these the hungry and the stranger Catholic social teaching is all about a commitment to the poor this commitment arises from our experiences of Jesus in the Eucharist as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains to receive in truth the body and blood of Christ given up for us we must recognize Christ in the poorest his brethren how can we be truly charitable and live out our baptismal call to follow Christ in this somewhat tumultuous world today we are going to take a look at the ever-growing issue of social justice and understand more about how Catholics are called to an even greater responsibility in the church and in the world I'm Andrew Santos and this is Catholic focus in one of Pope Benedict's most notable encyclicals Caritas and very tatay he said that charity goes beyond justice because to love is to give to offer what is mind to the other but it never lacks justice which prompts us to give the other what is his what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting on the other hand the year 2011 was a year marked with unrest many cities around the world including Toronto and Vancouver saw mass crowds of demonstrators camping out in parks they were protesting against global injustice poor wages and corporate greed this became known as the Occupy movement in response to this the Vatican released an 18 page letter titled toward reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of a global public authority the letter has received much praise from many governments around the world as well as some criticism so where exactly does the church stand on universal justice how important is justice in charity on a universal scale joining me in studio to talk more about the church's response to social justice are two proactive workers in the Lord's vineyard they are living out the call of social justice in today's world they are no strangers to us here at Sultan light on my right is dr. Andrew Simoni founder of Canadian food for children and on his right is Luc stocking animator for central Ontario for the Canadian Catholic organization for development and peace welcome to both of you thank you for joining me it's great to be in Pope Benedict's encyclical we hear that charity goes beyond justice how do we make that happen in today's world I think we have to share our abundance with the people of this earth who do not have what we have and we have to give them an opportunity to have a chance in life I mean most of us and our ancestors that came to Canada were given the opportunity to go to school and God wants everyone in this earth to have that opportunity to have good food go to school develop their soul mm-hmm look well I think what Pope Benedict says it's not only that it has to go beyond but it Caritas includes justice and transcends it so so justice is actually a starting point and that can be it in order to embrace that in the world if we can start with that with justice and then we can be moved to go to that generosity of spirit that that Benedict calls us to and I think actually and when I say that I think actually that when we see injustice in the world something is stirred within us whether that injustice is children who don't have the opportunity to go to school or who find themselves born into war-torn countries or were struck by the injustice of that and that can be the starting point that then moves us to reflect on our own lives as dr. Simone II shares you know the opportunities that we have already had our ancestors have built for us to then reflect on our own lives and realize God's called to us to respond now we hear this term often social justice we need to do more social justice in the world in the church in your work how do you define social justice I had to find social justice as everybody given an opportunity to work and to not build a society where one person has billions of dollars and other people don't have work and we had an example in Africa for where one of the dictators died and he actually was found to have 200 billion dollars in financial assets in his country they had all kinds of young people without work not going to school he could have taken that money and started schools started soccer leagues do anything to let those young people grow instead of leaving them in a society and leaving them angry and so what I find is social justice is not having a hard heart understanding that that the poor are very precious and that if our heart is not hard we would we would be welcome them and be willing to share with them well I would say you know building on that that social justice is in effect the antithesis of kind of the dominant social values that exist today in that the dominant value today is that that of enlightened self-interest you put yourself first and then in doing that somehow magically the rest of the world all of society is going to benefit and social justice kind of turns that on on its head and says you you know no there are times when we have to look to building the common good and that sometimes means you know enlightened self disinterest putting the needs of others before our own needs and recognizing that we are not just individuals but we are individuals in relationship with one another that's really what constitutes social justice and in Catholic social teaching we have very strong concepts that help us round out that definition of social social justice you know the common good so playing taxes everybody complains about taxes right I'm probably one of the few people in my circle of friends that you know as long as they're fair you know doesn't complain about taxes because that's what you know it's key to the common good so we have common good the preferential option for the poor subsidiarity these are all concepts that help us to our signposts for us as we pursue that life of social justice and our understanding of it in the faith context now how important our acts of charity and justice on a global scale dr. Simone II o st. Paul said there's three things that last Faith Hope and love and the greatest is love so every act of charity continues for eternity so the whole point is anything we do to make a difference it's very important and I remember when we first started our work sister Josephine wrote us a letter from Eritrea and she sent us a picture of all these children with the to to the ladies caring for them and she said the little girl in the flower dress was used for the Ethiopian soldiers by an aunt and she got sick and they were able to take her out of that horrible environment and so just that act that sister Josephine who came from Italy to Eritrea was a tremendous thing for that little girl and all these little girls they're being abused so anything we do to as Luke said to get out of ourselves and our enlightened self-interest and do something for someone else is what Jesus said we should do that's what he did and he told us where supposed to be servants he said look I'm washing people's feet I'm serving and so that's our call as disciples of Jesus that's our call as Catholics to live our faith and our faith Jesus continually talked about the poor and how important they are he had this option for the poor he loved all of us but he liked to pour a little bit more what about for you Luke and Canadian development in peace well you know there's the there's a kind of a cliche saying now to think globally and act locally and certainly as the world becomes more and more interconnected you know the idea of sort of global and local is fusing more and more into one so you almost can't separate them now to act I give you an example actually because the issues are the same we had a visitor from Senegal from an organization we support in Senegal that works with small farmers peasant farmers in Senegal who were really struggling to survive just to have them you know looking for markets for their produce and and we took Dame his name was Dame Saul we took him on a tour of farms locally here in Ontario small farms and he heard from a small family farm heard their struggle and he said you know the the core issues of of what's at the root of your struggle is the same as what is that the root of the struggles of the farmers we work with in Senegal the only difference is the scale so for the family farm here it means they might have to sell the family farm for them in Senegal it means they're not going to eat and they're you know so so the scale is different but the issues are the same and that's why it's development in peace we are constantly looking at issues at a at a global level because the poorest in our human family really the poorest are found you know outside of Canada but at the same time the issue the the the root causes of their poverty and poverty here are all similar all interrelated and so we try and tackle those and that means you know focusing on local issues and global issues now you alluded to a little bit about small farmers now development and peace has recently launched a campaign about small farmers could you talk a little bit more about that sure well we support a lot of small farmers around the world a lot of our development projects are aimed at supporting small firms because farming is the profession of the poor I mean so when we look at our global food system today or what we would call our industrial food system we see that it's not good for the poor it's not good for our planet and that's really the basic message of our campaign this year is that by supporting small-scale farming by supporting alternatives to an industrialized food system we can feed people and at the same time we can also help to fight climate change because the current industrial agricultural system by our research is responsible for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions around the world so actually this lent I'm going to be giving up all meat and dairy I really like meat a lot but but I you know the more you look at the issues we realize just our consumption of food our overconsumption of food you know is destroying the planet and and creating poverty as well too so I mean I could go into more detail about it but that's the essential message of of what we're trying to spread this year so by supporting those small farmers and we have solidarity postcards we've so far collected 32,000 across the country in Catholic parishes and schools postcards of where people are expressing their solidarity with small farmers and we're giving those postcards to the small farmers in the form of a banner that they can use in their own advocacy efforts for land reform in their countries so that it's easier for peasant farmers around the world to have a living I met farmers who this past summer in Paraguay who have lost their land to make way for giant soya plantations you know that are going to feed the cows that end up on our plates and supermarkets are like so you know there and talk about that kind of global and local right at all in in this interdependent interconnected world that all goes together in your opinion what is the greatest threat towards universal social justice hard-hearted people I mean it's simple if you if you Jesus you know the psalm say dude harden not your heart if you hear that in French it says no firm a pile sock or don't your when your heart is hard you're not willing to see the great gift of the poor you're not willing to do what Luke says you you see the poor as problems as try to eliminate them promote abortion promote artificial contraception you don't see what st. Maria Euphrasia said the founder of the sisters of the Good Shepherd she said one human soul is worth more than every material possession on this earth so we can look at some of the rich people in the United States with all their billions and we can say that little person that little farmer of that little farmer's family is more valuable in every human possession in this earth and that's the way we have to think we have to see the dignity the other thing is we have to see the rich of this society they don't understand the greatness of God's love like most of them do you might get the founder of some of these TV stations and they think they know everything and the truth is they're very successful financially but they don't know the love of God in in they don't have that in their hearts and that's the problem and we have to live in this society and try to get people to see that we can make a difference now Luke and dr. Andrew we've been seeing scenes on television for quite a while about the Occupy movement they've been taking over public spaces and parks in cities all across Canada the United States and Europe and they've been protesting human injustice and corporate greed now tell me in direct role does development and peace and Canadian food for children have in this global campaign it's interesting when I was in Paraguay we met campesinos who have been carrying out occupations for years in fact campesinos or peasant farmers have been carrying out occupations well before the whole occupy movement even started and I guess the Occupy movement came to our attention because it was happening in the Western world right New York City but the poor have been have been raising their voice this movement started before you know Wall Street these campesinos occupy land that is illegally held by large landowners and they literally take it over and start farming to give so you know when they and when when the when the protesters here are evicted they go back to their homes but those campesinos when they're occupying that land they're turning it into farms and their homes and so when they're evicted they have nowhere to go nothing so and the values are the same the values of the campesinos that I met that have been occupying land for you know four years and doing this for years are the same around the type of issues they're calling attention to the injustice greed Ivan goes back to you know what dr. Simone II said in terms of the greatest issue is that hardness of heart that's the greatest and I did a retreat recently for members of development and peace in the Peterborough diocese and the opening line of the prayer that I that I reflected on was let Christ occupy our hearts and that's really you know the when people are going out into the squares and occupying these spaces they are asking for goodness to occupy the hearts of those who have had their hearts hardened and in that way the mission of development and peace is very sympathetic to the whole movement because you know the values of the movement in many ways are our values to add a very deep and basic level the only thing that we would add to it or perspective we come to it is that we cannot soften our hearts on our own we can't we need God to be able to bring about the world that it is that we so want a need because that that's our perspective you know that without God none of this is possible none of what none of what our hearts are yearning for that justice the peace you know is possible would you agree with that as well yes I would and I think we have to look at this society though the world we live in now they're there wasting the greatest resource we have our young people like in our charity we think of our charity as helping somebody in another country but we also always bring young people to our our warehouse and I was surprised a few weeks ago a wedding I spoke to a very educated nurse and also a very educated high school girl and neither the knew that it takes about nine pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat and you know and that's what we're talking about when Luke says he's going to make this sacrifice at Lent to give up meat and and dairy products and what we have now in a society we have the rich people you know somebody very rich is giving away a billion dollars which is absolutely nothing I mean he would be better to give away everything and keep a half a million if he wants to do something to make a difference because that's what Jesus said he looked at the little widow that gave her last coin and now we have a society that our young people are put on contracts they can't even get a job out there that they want it their big corporations want to make sure that we out when we don't need you you're out and so we don't even get we have all these lovely young people with tremendous potential and we're producing this society that's focused on freedom fifty-five you know just what do I get but forget about me and my age let's take Luke and all the young people like you Andrew and let's give you a future give you a chance to you want a family and children okay well I want to thank the both of you for joining me today to talk about this ever-growing issue of social justice how we can make it a part of our everyday life of our of our own spirituality thank you so much again and best of luck to you in your work with Canadian food for children and with development and peace we now take an in-depth look at the work of Canadian food for children at their warehouse in Mississauga Ontario tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of Mississauga is a warehouse where true love and charity has shown dr. Andrew Simoni makes it his life's purpose to show acts of charity on a day to day basis in this warehouse the organization initially began as Mother Teresa's helpers but it later switched its name to Canadian food for children volunteers give of their time faithfully and freely and no one has paid in his most recent endeavor yet dr. Simone E and Canadian food for children shipped nearly 8.3 million pounds of goods new and recycled clothing non-perishable food medicine and school supplies were sent to 22 developing countries including Sierra Leone and the Philippines throughout the year supplies and clothing are accepted and nothing is turned away the work for social justice is therefore an integral part of the mission of the church we are inspired and sustained in this work by a spirituality of justice as the prophet Isaiah said the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor he has sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind to let the oppressed go free to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor thank you for joining me for this episode of Catholic focus if you have any feedback be sure to email us at focus at sultan light I'm Andrew Santos until next time peace be with you you

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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