Outline four of the main principles of Catholic Social Teaching and then discuss at greater length some of their possible applications in a curriculum setting.
The central message of Christianity and thus our main focus as educators is quite simple in that it is profoundly social.
“We cannot be called truly “Catholic” unless we hear and heed the Church's call to serve those in need and work for justice and peace. “
(Communities of Salt and Light, U.S. Bishops, 1993)
“Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19)” (Office of Social Development & World Peace United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
There are 10 principles involved in the concept of Catholic Social Teaching. According to William J. Byron they are: Human Dignity; Community/Common Good; Rights and Duties of the Human person; Preferential option for the poor; Call to Participation; Economic Justice; Stewardship of Creation; Virtue of Solidarity; Subsidiarity – The responsibilities and limits of the government and the Promotion of Peace. In this essay I will focus four of the main principles: Human Dignity; Call to Participation; Rights and Duties of the Human person and Promotion of Peace in reference to the current Alive O religious education programme.
Human Dignity is at the core of all Christian teaching- according to the Vatican II Ecclesiology, “The Church is a sign and a safeguard of the dignity of the human person,” in that the human person is sacred, constructed in the image and likeness of God, thus to work for social justice and human dignity is a deeply religious act.
"My dear people, we are already the children of God, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is" (1 John 3:1-2)
The concept of us being children of God is rooted in the major themes of the Alive O Foundation Programme, for example- “We Belong to God: Lesson 12” In this lesson the teacher is aiming to,
“Lead the children to an awareness of God as Creator and as the one who sustains all creation.” (Alive O1:P86)
This lesson is therefore, helping the children to understand the being that is God, to develop a relationship with God and to realise that they belong to God- all basic elements of the concept of Human Dignity.
We, as Catholic Social educators want to guide the children to the understanding that we all have an eternal destiny in God. This ultimately means that,
“Every human being has equal dignity with every other, for each individual human life is directly related to God, as its source and cause, its end and destiny, regardless of the outward appearances of strength, beauty and intelligence.” (www.secondspring.co.uk/course)
In relation to the call to participation, it is important to remember that all people have a right to a minimum level of participation in the economic, political and cultural life of society. Therefore it is morally wrong to withdraw this participation or exclude a person unfairly.
“Basic justice demands the establishment of minimum levels of participation in the life of the human community for all persons. The ultimate injustice is for a person or group to be treated actively or abandoned passively as if they were nonmembers of the human race”
This is a very prominent theme in the PDMU primary school programme when KS2 children examine conflict situations and how to manage conflict. It focuses on conflict locally and also on a global scale. Teachers use support materials such as “BBC Primary Focus” or...