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According to Church teaching, what are the principles we should apply to questions of civic engagement?

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There are four principles of Catholic social teaching that should be applied to civic engagement (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, nos. 44-56) (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no.160).  These are:

The dignity of the human person is the foundation of our moral vision for society. We stand opposed to all activities that contribute to what Pope Francis has called “a throwaway culture.”

Subsidiarity calls for every person and association to have a right and a duty to participate actively in shaping society. Larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good. (Centesimus Annus, no. 48; Dignitatis Humanae, nos. 4-6). The family, as the first and fundamental unit of society, is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Parents have a right and responsibility to care for their children.

“The common good indicates ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily’ (Gaudium et Spes, no. 26). … The common good, in fact, can be understood as the social and community dimension of the moral good” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 164). Every human being has a right to life, therefore a right to access those things required for human decency: food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. This principle also recognizes that we have a duty to care for God’s creation, as outlined in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Solidarity recognizes that we are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. In the heat of political campaigns, it is essential that we remind ourselves and others that mercy is a core virtue. Love for our neighbor includes a responsibility to welcome the stranger among us and emphasizing the Church’s preferential option for the poor.

See also – How can Catholic social teaching help guide our participation?

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