Essay Sample on Catholic Social Thought

Published: 2022-05-20
Essay Sample on Catholic Social Thought
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Ethics Christianity
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1417 words
12 min read

Solidarity has emerged as a central concept in the new Christian ethics. Though it is found in other Christian traditions and other religious and philosophical systems of ethics, the Catholic social tradition has a fully defined and developed concept of solidarity over the last centuries. As such, solidarity as per the Catholic teachings provides a unique understanding of the social obligations of individuals, communities, institutions, and nations at large. It is used as a lens to examine interdependence. Solidarity is multifaceted, can be a feeling, an attitude, and a duty, with all these components to culminate in a virtue; virtue ethics has an expanded role in the contemporary moral theology. The turn to virtue has shifted the focus of teaching and scholarship in moral theology away from the morality in favor of consideration of questions of character and formation.

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Correspondingly, the overall vision of Catholic social thought puts a trace on the emergence of solidarity and human rights as the critical theological and philosophical backbone of the anthropology and Ethics foundation to the development of Catholic social teachings. Meghan Clark argues that the successful integration of human rights, as well as the virtue of solidarity as the base of the Catholic social tradition, are among the unique and critical contributions made by the catholic's thought towards the contemporary debates in ethics, political and that of philosophical theory. Drawing deeper into papal tradition and the theological and ethical developments of Vatican II, Clark forwards a constructive vision of virtue and social practice, putting into application the critical question of human rights on the global stage.4

On the other hand, the right to own private property, for instance, the right to own property has been given to man naturally. It is so to enable individuals to provide for their families and their needs too. That said, this law was a proof that whatever God the Creator has destined for human race may truly serve that purpose

The virtue of solidarity and praxis of Human rights states, as long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I am in possession of a billion dollars. With the rampant diseases in existence, millions of souls cannot expect to live more than thirty years. I can never fully healthy even though I get regular check-ups at Mayo hospital. I cannot be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. We are interdependent according to Martin Luther King Jr.

The culture of materialism and that of selfishness that has always prevailed in the societies is not what ought to build up and lead to a more habitable world. It is only by solidarity culture that such is attained from. Seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters." Human Rights and solidarity in a human dignity, as an ontological characteristic of the human person, includes relationality. Humans are social in nature and so does human dignity in itself include relationality and participation. Equality, mutuality, and reciprocity characterize human dignity. Theologically, imago del popularly understood as imago trinitatis offers a 'unity across difference' and emphasize on the centrality of equality, mutuality, and reciprocity as the criteria by which to evaluate human relationships. Via the theological reflection on Trinity and covenant, Christian ethics offers a conception of human dignity that cements the individual and community, human rights, and solidarity.

Both pope Paul and Sen are influenced by Kant, and he consequently represents a significant figure in the modernity narrative addressed by Charles Taylor. According to Kant, dignity is grounded in the human capacity for self-legislation.; the capacity for a rational agency is the foundation of the kingdom of ends and human dignity. Paul uses Kant to insist that we must recognize that other human persons, as agents, have their own ends- in that, humans have the capacity to become both subjects and objects. Amartyas' social analysis of development offers a provision on analytical support for the necessity of social and economic conditions for the realization of human rights. All these together provide a platform for the relationship between the virtue of solidarity and the praxis of human rights within Catholic social teachings.

Catholic social teaching develops and adapts to deal with emerging historical situations and the presence of new ethical concerns. Throughout their history, emerging Catholic social encyclicals have used the vast wealth of Catholic moral theology to address new emerging issues in ethics. Consequently, they have adapted developed new ethical theories to deal with the problems of the modern world, therefore, upholding on this tradition.

Anthropological Foundations for Human Rights and Solidarity claims that humans must reappropriate the true meaning of freedom. Freedom is not total autonomy in itself but rather a response to the call of being, beginning with our personal being. Pope Benedict Caritas XVI elaborates that we are one human family. By simply being born into this world, we are one of the inheritants and one stock with every other human being. This oneness expresses itself in all the richness and diversity of the human family: in different races, cultures, languages and histories. Therefore, we have an obligation to recognize the basic solidarity of the human family of the fundamental condition of our life together in this world.

The integral Human Development practicality and social analysis development is a process of expanding the freedom that individuals enjoy. To move forward successfully in different functions and responsibilities involves the ability to actually analyze, understand and later engage in serving the human family and most especially the ones in need and the suffering, for instance, those who experience the implication of hunger. The roots of the encyclical consist of the universality of the social question but most importantly, the moral evaluation of the reality. It includes considering the social effects of development and poverty individually, nationally and progressively, globally. Anthropological positions underpinning the Catholic's social thoughts in view of human rights lead to a concrete ethical demand.

Nominal assent to human rights and solidarity without a practical commitment to the necessary social matrix is termed as empty (Sen 2011). A good example is Paul VI own engagement with the emerging economic and political theories of development in Populorum Progressio. This dialogue with social science is a paramount response to the people who dismissed the vision of Catholic social thought as naive, optimistic or detached from the actual realities of the contemporary society.

As a moral tradition, Catholic social teachings must be in harmony with the social analysis of particular historical contexts. Nobel Prize winner, Sen, uses philosophy and economics to argue for a particular understanding of freedom, human rights, and importance of social structures. This theory and the praxis for Millenium Development Goals identify a need to integrate freedom of development. Clark confirms by way of demonstration through examples that freedom is interdependent; hence, all human rights are equally interdependent. He further proves that development as freedom provides analytical support for a connection between human rights and solidarity. This analysis is a helpful pragmatism which is a helpful counterpart to the theoretical emphasis and optimism of Catholic social teachings and many humans.

Engaging the future of human right projects and building solidarity is important for humans. It is in the culture of solidarity that makes the world more habitable. Pope Francis addressed a community by saying "...when you truly accept that those children from afar off place in the globals village have the same values as you in God's eyes your life it totally changed, you see something that you cannot unsee". The humans are created in the image of God thus the human community is the living image of the Trinity. This is an element of Christian theology that claims that human person is created in the likeness of God. It then places an ethical claim on us, individually and collectively. But it also requires respect for the fact that, as imago trinitatis, we are together.


Dorr, Donal. Option for the Poor; A hundred Years of Catholic Social Teaching. Washington DC: Geogetown University Press, 2009.

Beyer, Gerald J. "The meaning of solidarity in Catholic social teaching." Political Theology 15, no. 1 (2014): 7-25.

Clark, Meghan J. "Anatomy of a Social Virtue: Solidarity and Corresponding Vices." Political Theology 15, no. 1 (2014): 26-39.

Massaro, Thomas. Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action. Maryland, USA: 2017.

Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, Vatican website, 2018, vi_enc_260.

Sen, Amartya. "Global solidarity, Human Rights , and te end of Poverty." April 2011

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