Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Person and Society

In light of recent events developing in the world, I want to refocus my efforts and turn back towards a series I haven’t worked on for some time – Quick Lessons from the Catechism.

I think there are Catholics who are unaware that the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church focuses on many things that pertain to our every day lives. For today’s QLC, I want to focus on what the Catholic Church teaches on when it comes to The Person and Society. The human community’s image lies in the image of God and focuses on the divine. Paragraph 1877 in the Catechism states,

The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole.

In his encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern), Pope St. John Paul II says,

“Development that does not include the cultural, transcendent and religious dimensions of man and society, to the extent that it does not recognize the existence of such dimensions and does not endeavor to direct its goals and priorities toward the same, is even less conducive to authentic liberation. Human beings are totally free only when they are completely themselves, in the fullness of their rights and duties. The same can be said about society as a whole.”

For more on authentic liberation, I would encourage you to check out my QLC on The Freedom of Humanity and Religious Freedom.

With this being said, let’s examine quickly, what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on The Person and Society –

There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men ought to establish among themselves. [#1890]

The human person needs life in society in order to develop in accordance with his nature. Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man. [#1891]

“The human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject, and the object of every social organization” (GS 25 # 1). [1#892]

Widespread participation in voluntary associations and institutions is to be encouraged. [#1893]

In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies. [#1894]

Society ought to promote the exercise of virtue, not obstruct it. It should be animated by a just hierarchy of values. [#1895]

Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is necessary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel (cf CA 3, 5). [#1896]

For more information on this topic, I would encourage you to read paragraphs 1878-1889. To read what Pope St. John Paul II has to say on Social Concern, I would encourage you to read the aforementioned encyclical. He experienced firsthand the destruction of the human person and authentic freedom in Poland after World War II.

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