Canon Law Says Social Justice Is Obligatory
I’m doing this mostly because I find the history and development of the Code fascinating, but in the process I’ve been running across little tidbits of information that complement Catholic Social Teaching with a force I did not expect.
For example, canons 208-223 outline the “obligations and rights” of Catholics, and among them we find this:
§1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divineworship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.
§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.
Considering the astounding belief among American Catholics that social justice is just “liberal propaganda,” cannon 222 is a fine reinforcement to what those familiar with Catholic Social Teaching already know: the pursuit of social justice is integral to the right ordering of society and cannot be ignored.
The concept of social justice, in fact, has a rich history of explication and development through various Church documents. I’m not typically a reader of Catholic World Report, but they published a three-part series in 2013 that covers the subject fairly well.
The Commentary was also helpful on this passage, explaining–just like Caritas in Veritate, paragraph 6–that social justice is rightfully placed before charity, because if we do not pursue social justice, we risk giving “in charity” what is actually owed in justice. Thus, if we learn to ignore social justice, then we will never actually be giving in charity, even if we claim to be.
For a bit more on this subject, Scott Eric Alt has a great post over at Patheos.