Catholic social teaching ‘can help evangelize American culture’
Catholic social teaching, if lived by Catholics, can help evangelize American culture by bringing freedom into conversation with social solidarity, said Father Daniel Griffith, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis.
“This is how the principles work together, and we can truly be a force for transformation, a leaven for good, as informed Catholics,” he said. “I think it always starts with a prayerful reflection, in terms of what the Lord is calling us to.”
Father Griffith recently joined Practicing Catholic host Patrick Conley to discuss Catholic social teaching and what it asks of the faithful. He said the subject is close to his heart and is a major area of his teaching at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis.
Modern Catholic social teaching began in 1891 with Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” encyclical, Father Griffith said. The encyclical highlighted several fundamental principles that help promote individual and collective human flourishing, including the struggle for justice and the understanding of rights and responsibilities, he said.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution decided to build this document on a natural rights foundation that stems from God-given rights, not the rights of government, Father Griffith said. “And so the primary duty of government is to promote and certainly not transgress our natural rights,” he said.
“Pacem in Terris,” a social encyclical published by Pope St. John XXIII in 1963, insists that everyone is endowed with intelligence and free will, with rights and duties flowing from their human dignity, said the Father Griffith.
Individuals not only have rights, but according to Catholic social teaching, other members of society have a duty to work towards policy and law that promotes those rights, he said.
Father Griffith said he was encouraged by the solidarity and unity among peace-loving and justice-loving nations in exercising solidarity with the people of Ukraine, a prophetic sign “of what we can be and of what we can do together for the good people who are not. only struggle, but towards a path of greater justice and peace. During his February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin may have underestimated this solidarity, Father Griffith said.
To listen to the full interview, tune in to this episode of “Practicing Catholic,” which begins at 9 p.m. March 18 on Relevant Radio 1330 AM, and airs again at 1 p.m. March 19 and 2 p.m. a.m. March 20.
Produced by Relevant Radio and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the latest broadcast also includes interviews with Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who describes some of the ways he stays connected with others; and Jose Aguto of Catholic Climate Covenant, which offers reflections on Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’” and climate change.
Listen to their interviews after they air:
Category: Practicing Catholic