Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can one “overemphasize” social work?

In particular, does GK put overemphasis on social work?
Depends on how “social work” is defined in the context. If it is a godless type of social work then it is not compatible with the Social Doctrine of the Church. If it compromises the faith in the process, it is not compatible likewise. On the other hand, if it is integrated with what Pope John Paul II says about “new forms of evangelization”, then such social work is unified and integral with the mission of the Church, and can never be overemphasized.

GK and similar missions of the faithful laity for the poor must be understood and directed in the context of Social Doctrine of the Church. Thus the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:

66. The Church's social doctrine is an integral part of her evangelizing ministry. Nothing that concerns the community of men and women — situations and problems regarding justice, freedom, development, relations between peoples, peace — is foreign to evangelization, and evangelization would be incomplete if it did not take into account the mutual demands continually made by the Gospel and by the concrete, personal and social life of man. Profound links exist between evangelization and human promotion

67. The Church's social doctrine “is itself a valid instrument of evangelization” and is born of the always new meeting of the Gospel message and social life. Understood in this way, this social doctrine is a distinctive way for the Church to carry out her ministry of the Word and her prophetic role. “In effect, to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour”. This is not a marginal interest or activity, or one that is tacked on to the Church's mission, rather it is at the very heart of the Church's ministry of service

83. The first recipient of the Church's social doctrine is the Church community in its entire membership, because everyone has social responsibilities that must be fulfilled. The conscience is called by this social teaching to recognize and fulfill the obligations of justice and charity in society. This doctrine is a light of moral truth that inspires appropriate responses according to the vocation and ministry of each Christian. In the tasks of evangelization, that is to say, of teaching, catechesis and formation that the Church's social doctrine inspires, it is addressed to every Christian, each according to the competence, charisms, office and mission of proclamation that is proper to each one.

182. The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern. To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force…

It is our firm hope that GK’s mission to the poor proves integral to our expression of faith, but should indeed remain open to righteous correction if we ever do lose sight :

To love one another with the Love that inspires Jesus’ ministry among men, who Himself said “I have come to bring glad tidings to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,… to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Might it be possible to overemphasize?

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