Gerald is the author of a number of books on Catholic Social
Teaching and on Scriptures. A father of three children, he has
been a lay missionary, a businessman, a high school and college
teacher. He also held the chair of the Archdiocesan Peace and
Justice Commission in Mobile, Alabama for a number of years. His
next publication will be an educational kit on Catholic social
teaching. It is scheduled to be published by Loyola Press in April,
2000. See his impressive website: Theology
century, for all its evils, left us with a more democratized world.
This means that more and more people are involved in social decision
making, and it raises the question of how people are prepared to contribute
to such decision making.
If the followers
of Christ do not make the attempt to promote Christian principles of
social justice, then people will operate out of the received wisdom
of the secular world. For Catholic educators, this means teaching the
principles that have been articulated in the tradition of Catholic social
teaching to be effective, it must include the major themes of the tradition:
the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of life, the call to family
and community, the common good, human rights, the option for the poor
and vulnerable, the dignity of work, the rights of workers, interdependence,
solidarity, care for God's creation, and the call to be peacemakers.
of social justice must also include action. Students must learn to identify
social justice not just with abstract principles but also with concrete
steps that we can take individually and corporately to create a more
of social justice must be based on the experiences of students themselves.
All of us have been touched in some measure by affronts to our dignity
and denials of rights, and all of us are threatened by war, social division,
and destruction of the environment. These experiences must be brought
into our teaching of social justice.
of social justice must be challenging. It must avoid partisanship but
not controversy. To be partisan in our teaching is to distract from
the purpose of our teaching of social justice; to be controversial is
to refuse to surrender to the forces of the status quo.
social justice, we must make certain connections. We must make biblical
connections, links to the message of the prophets, the liberating story
of the exodus, and the gospel message of peace and justice. We must
make liturgical connections, creating an awareness of the importance
of the work we bring to the altar as our sacrifice. Just as Catholics
gather in their churches to worship God, so they must come together
outside of their churches to work for the coming of God's kingdom.
make historical connections linking our contemporary efforts for a better
world to the work of those who have gone before us, people like Francis
de Sales and Dorothy Day. We must make spiritual connections, linking
our prayer life with our work for a better world.
others to participate actively in the life of society, we Catholics
have at our disposal several powerful tools. We have the scriptures,
filled with our ancestors' experiences of God's liberating power and
of our own empowerment for the struggle against injustice. We have the
sacramental tradition of the church, teaching us to value life, to heal
wounds, to feed one another, and to love and serve our brothers and
sisters. We have, finally, the marvelous tradition of Catholic social
teaching, which seeks to apply to the modern world the ageless principles
of justice and peace on which our religion is founded.
contribution can we make to the world as educators than to help ensure
that the wonderful powers of our scriptures, our sacraments, and our
tradition of social teaching are brought to bear on the efforts to deal
with the problems of contemporary life.
©Gerald Darring, 2001