Christians have a special place in their hearts for the poor and vulnerable because Jesus had a special place in his heart for them. The Gospels are filled with stories of how he helped those in need. Some of the most famous - the Beatitudes, the Last Judgment and the Good Samaritan - summarize the importance of Christian service to the marginalized of society.
Many scholars trace the beginning of modern Catholic social teaching to the 1891 publication of Rerum Novarum (Of New Things). Reacting to the abuse of workers during the Industrial Revolution, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical focused on the application of the Gospel message to an industrial society.
Even the Vatican is going green. With the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Vatican began selling power back to the Roman electric grid in November 2008.
Is the death of a preborn human in the womb really a private matter? Who is not horrified by the evil of genocide? How can a terrorist bombing of a marketplace ever be justified?
"We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill," says Living the Gospel of Life "or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem."
“Every person has a fundamental right to life,” say the U.S. Bishops, “the right that makes all other rights possible. Each person also has a right to the conditions for living a decent life—faith and family life, food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing. We also have a duty to secure and respect these rights not only for ourselves, but for others, and to fulfill our responsibilities to our families, to each other, and to the larger society.” (Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility, 2003.)
We are our brothers and sisters keepers, whether they are next door or around the world. In today’s world of instantaneous communication, 24-hour news cycles and world economic dependency, this simple axiom is truer than ever.
“The person is not only sacred,” say the US Bishops, “but also social. How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community."
This organization of society moves from the basic unit, the family, to the larger community while ensuring that everyone participates. The emphasis on the larger social group counterbalances unregulated individual rights, that left unconstrained, can turn toward anarchy.