Catholic Social Teaching & The Pandemic

Forming opinions and making judgments that have moral implications are always matters of conscience. We all have the freedom to decide, but that freedom must be tempered by our responsibility to choose rightly especially during stressful times like this. The purpose of this column is to bring you information to assist you in making complex decisions consistent with the core beliefs of our Catholic tradition. We welcome your feedback on the issues presented. Please respond at [email protected]

FEATURED ARTICLES:

Week of 7/26/2020
Not long ago, we Americans remembered and celebrated our nation's independence. But what does it mean to be truly free? The following short commentary presents a definition of freedom that may be challenging for many of us, but certainly one that flows from the kind of life and death modeled by Jesus in the Gospels and is so essential in this time of pandemic. 

"Survival of America’s Experiment Depends on How We Use Freedom" here >

Week of 7/19/2020
The annual celebration of the birth of our nation in early July encourages us to ponder the many freedoms Americans have grown accustomed to over the years. Yet not everyone living here experiences these freedoms, and not surprisingly, one such group includes those who are incarcerated.  

COVID-19 has taken its toll on many people, but some of those who are most at risk for contracting this virus are prisoners. Should a prison sentence restrict or deny an inmate's right to protection from disease and the right to decent medical care? The Catholic Social Teaching featured articles for the next two weeks focus on this issue and remind us of our Catholic responsibility to the incarcerated - those who are additionally prisoners to a system which further dehumanizes them.
Read "Building a Catholic Response to Mass Incarceration" here >

Week of 7/12/2020
The annual celebration of the birth of our nation in early July encourages us to ponder the many freedoms Americans have grown accustomed to over the years. Yet not everyone living here experiences these freedoms, and not surprisingly, one such group includes those who are incarcerated. 

COVID-19 has taken its toll on many people, but some of those who are most at risk for contracting this virus are prisoners. Should a prison sentence restrict or deny an inmate's right to protection from disease and the right to decent medical care? The Catholic Social Teaching featured articles for the next two weeks focus on this issue and remind us of our Catholic responsibility to the incarcerated - those who are additionally prisoners to a system which further dehumanizes them.

Read "San Quentin Joins a Growing List of U.S. Prisons Overwhelmed by Coronavirus" here >

Week of 7/5/2020
When Pope Francis came to our country and addressed Congress in 2015 (listen here), he mentioned the names of four great Americans that he admired and felt should continue to inspire us, one of them being Dorothy Day. Below you will find a link to a review of a new biography of Dorothy that will introduce you to why Pope Francis considers her one of the great American Catholic witnesses of the 20th century, who still speaks to us today. Her message and example is extremely relevant as we witness how the pandemic is worsening the plight of the poor and most vulnerable in society. Just as Dorothy reached out to the economically poor and destitute, we are called to do the same. Read "New Biography Chronicles Dorothy Day's Astonishing Life in Detail" here >

Week of 6/28/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has been called a great equalizer. It has been even more a great revealer of societal cancers as deadly as the virus," remarked Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, in his May 31st statement on the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath. The following article below briefly describes another church leader's response to this horrific incident and Pope Francis' reaction to it as our nation continues to grapple with the issue of racial justice. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas gives a very moving testimony about what brought him to this moment. Read "After 'Taking a Knee,' Border Bishop Gets a Call from the Pope" here >

Week of 6/21/2020
The United States has long been a refuge for people forced to flee their homes. More recently, however, our nation has not been so welcoming. The COVID outbreak has worsened the situation, particularly at our southern borders, where those legally seeking asylum from danger, including children, are being turned away. As World Refugee Day took place on June 18, take some time to further explore what is happening in our own backyard and what you can do about it. Read more here >

Week of 6/14/2020
The United States has long been a refuge for people forced to flee their homes. More recently, however, our nation has not been so welcoming. The COVID outbreak has worsened the situation, particularly at our southern borders, where those legally seeking asylum from danger, including children, are being turned away. As we approach World Refugee Day on June 18, take some time to further explore what is happening in our own backyard and what you can do about it here >  

Week of 6/7/2020
The Catholic bishops of the United States issued a pastoral letter against racism in late 2018. “Open Wide Our Hearts: the Enduring Call to Love” condemns racism as a destructive and persistent form of evil, calling it our country’s original sin. We are all challenged to acknowledge our complicity and to change. Following recent events clearly rooted in racism which have spawned protests throughout U.S. cities and abroad, the bishops have released another statement on May 29, 2020, passionately reaffirming that racism is antithetical to the Gospel values we profess. It is a life issue and it is a justice issue to which we can no longer remain indifferent. These documents are provided here >

Also included is a statement by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), the leadership group of men’s religious orders in the U.S. It adds their voice condemning racism and calling for authentic change. Read the statement here >


Week of 5/31/2020
Are you passionate about the migration issue?  Would you like to join together with others who are inspired by Catholic Social Teaching and Ignatian Spirituality? The Ignatian Solidarity Network invites members of Jesuit parishes such as Gesu and others involved in social ministry to virtually lobby for humane migration policies in our country and beyond. Access more information here >  

Week of 5/24/2020
"What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to the children who are growing up?" Pope Francis asks us to consider this question as we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the publication of his encyclical/letter, Laudato Si', translated "On Care for our Common Home." The Pope invites us all to reflect on the world around us not simply as a resource to exploit, but as a gift from God to protect for future generations. As the article states, in determining our response to this present situation, we have a unique opportunity to attempt to develop “a more harmonious relationship with the natural world.”

Read the following article to learn more about this anniversary as the start of a year-long program of activities:
"Vatican Launches year-long celebration of Laudato Si'" >

Access the text of Laudato Si' and other resources here >

Week of 5/17/2020
Who are the workers behind our healthcare and the food on our tables? What risks do they face in providing these essential services? What is our responsibility towards these people who risk their lives for us, yet are among the most vulnerable in our society? This article addresses these and other questions that have become even more significant during these times.


Week of 5/10/2020
Pope Francis recently celebrated Mass in honor of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, also International Worker's Day. He reminds us that work must honor the dignity of every human being and that all be paid a just wage. You can listen to the Pope's homily here >


Week of 5/3/2020
Any account of Catholic involvement in social justice issues in the United States would have to include the work of Dorothy Day. Although not without controversy in her time, she lived out her belief that passionate commitment to social justice is entirely compatible with a close intimacy with God. You can read "Sainthood Cause for Dorothy Day Picking Up Steam in U.S." at: https://bit.ly/2yUCmQO.


Week of 4/19/20
Everyone agrees that the response to a pandemic that affects everyone must consider the common good. The following article from The Tablet addresses four different ways of viewing the common good, including the Catholic response. You can read "The Virus and the Common Good" here >