A perspective on best kept secrets.
Tony Magliano writes
The Catholic church has a very big secret. It is so powerful, challenging and relevant that if every bishop, priest, deacon, religious and layperson was committed to communicating and implementing this secret, it would turn society upside-down and literally transform the world.
However, revealing its contents and tirelessly urging the full application of its message would surely cause great controversy. The church would come under fierce attack from both conservatives and liberals for being naïve and acting outside acceptable ecclesial boundaries.
Therefore, most Catholics have opted to tread lightly, sadly guaranteeing that Catholic social teaching will remain our best-kept secret.
From time to time, a passing reference is made to Catholic social teaching, but these token efforts are too weak and too infrequent to make much difference for the unborn, poor and war-torn of our world.
This is the subject for Fr. Robert Maloney’s fifth chapter of his challenging book A New Century Dawns: Hopes for the Vincentian Family.
Our knowledge of basics
He begins with a little test.
How many of us can name
- the ten commandments?
- the eight beatitudes?
- the three theological virtues?
- the four cardinal virtues?
- the seven corporal works of mercy?
- the seven sacraments?
- the seven capital sins?
However many of us can get these basics, it will be far less than the number who can name the ten foundational principles of the Catholic Church’s social teaching.
A challenge for Vincentians
How many can name ten social principles that are “an essential part of Catholic faith”?
Strangely, this question receives a befuddled response from almost any group of Catholics to whom I address it. Yet the Church has been proclaiming her social doctrine eloquently and repeatedly over the last 125 years. Years ago, in expressing my hopes for the Congregation of the Mission, I raised a question: “Do (those) whom we train come to sense that Vincentians are ‘experts’ in the social teaching of the Church?” I also offered a paralel chalenge to the Daughters of Charity: “I encourage you to make the social teaching of the Church an integral part of the formation of the members of the Company.”
But the truth is, as one bishops’ conference has stated, too many Catholics are not familiar with the social teaching of the Church. The bishops added; Many Catholics do not adequately understand that the social teaching of the Church is an essential part of Catholic faith.
This chapter views the ten essential principles of Caatholic Social Teaching. But more significantly it chllenages Vincentians to dedicate more time and energy to breaking the silence and communicating the implications of the “good news”
I want to encourage al the members of our Vincentian Family to communicate the Church’s social teaching to others. This teaching should be very important for us who live in the Vincentian tradition. The Church’s preferential option for the poor flows from it. The poor wil surely benefit to the extent that we, and others, are deeply rooted in this “essential part of Catholic faith.
He goes on to offer a rapid series of concrete suggestions about how we might “use” these principles in our ministry for and with those on the margins.
- How did I do on his initial test?
- How did I do on naming the 10 essential teaching of the church?
- What can I do to understand this best-kept secret … and let others in on the secret?
I hope you are stimulated to buy, read and encourage others to read A New Century Dawns: Hopes for the Vincentian Family
Fr. Robert Maloney -Catalog #2017 $10.00