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Monday, May 23, 2011

Caritas In Veritate Guides Justice Education in the Archdiocese of Chicago

Peace and justice groups often get stuck when trying to come to consensus on which specific social sin their parish should address.  Racism, sexism, classism, and threats to the environment are all worthy starting points for groups to begin working toward creating more just relationships in their communities.  But where to start?

Caritas In Veritate (Benedict XVI, 2009) assists peace and justice groups in this crucial discernment process. What follows are just two principles from Caritas In Veritate which guide concerned parishioners as they consider the particular needs of their community:

  • Pope Benedict states that while social communication provides increased opportunities for neighborliness (i.e., on-line and text donations after natural disasters), we have yet to establish fraternity (truth in charity) within the context of our social relations.  ‘Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived…Without truth, charity denigrates into sentimentality.’    
  • Integral human development, (Populorum Progressio, 1967) remains as the core strategy for governments and societies as they distribute justice to citizens. Globalization, with its emphasis on economic relations, presents distinctive and detailed challenges for integral human development.

Locally here in Chicago, I am amazed as I witness the incredible passion, zeal and enthusiasm of youth and young adults as they integrate the principles of Catholic social teaching into their lives.  Service trips, advocacy work on behalf of immigrants, the unborn, and volunteering at homeless shelters and soup kitchens represent just a few ways young people are making a difference in our Archdiocese.  These types of experiences are central in the shaping and forming of religious identities of youth today.

As program director for justice education my hope is founded on parish life, where youth can partner with adults to inspire the entire community to imagine and discover new ways to live more integral lives.  The parish is the place where we reflect on, judge and act upon the principles of Catholic social teaching (common good, subsidiarity, solidarity and dignity of the human person).  Prior to accepting my new position, I was privileged to serve as youth ministry coordinator for four years.

If your parish is interested in strategizing on creative ways to couple the inspiring enthusiasm of the youth with the wisdom of adults in social justice ministry, please feel free to contact me at 312 534 3890 or email

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Friday, May 27, 2011 12:22 PM

Today’s youth lack the experience of true freedom in the urban communities. The constant gang violence has put our law abiding youth at a great disadvantage; the lack of activities and structure for them has all but dissipated into apathy.
Therefore I applaud your (Catholic Church as well as other organizations) efforts, to get the communities back on track. I would love to see the day when today’s youth would be able to experience the freedom of riding a bike from 87th and Stony Island Ave. to the loop without being threaten, shot at or robbed.
Kim Williamson

Kim W.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 8:44 AM

It is so heartening to read of the response of today's youth to today's challenges. It warms my heart! Prodded by the bold stance of the Church on peace and justice, they seem to be moving in the right direction...away from a purely consumer mentality and back to the basics of love and service.
Many years ago, I wrote a children's song called "I See A New World." (published by World Library Publications.)
I see a new world coming soon, where people share their pain.
I hear a new world coming soon,
where peace and justice reign.
I feel a new world coming soon,
where your song will be mine.
I smell a new world coming soon.
There's blossoms on the vine.

Though our challenges are many, I do smell the blossoms. Keep calling us back to our best selves - our Christ-selves. It is what will save us.

Juliana H.

Monday, May 23, 2011 5:40 PM

Great to see this, Tom! Looking forward to seeing young people - Catholic schools and public - working through their parishes in the cause of justice this year.

Sr. M. Paul M.

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