| Papal Visit • September 26, 2015
A newly married couple was hoping to get the pope's blessing.
ALL: VERY REV. GEORGE MOCKEL
Four examples of Catholic Social Teaching
Very Rev. George Mockel
The Holy Father's address to Congress was an historical first and not just because it was the first time a pope has spoken to a joint session of the Congress.
He gave the representatives of the people of the United States a lesson in basic Catholic Social Teaching. By using the examples of four Americans he showed how each lived out the principles of Catholic social thought in what they said and how they lived.
Everyone in the audience had heard of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. of course. Not all would be as familiar with Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day.
Lincoln represents liberty.
Martin Luther King represents freedom and nonexclusion.
Dorothy Day, passion and justice for the poor.
Thomas Merton, dialogue, peace and openness to God.
In speaking of Merton and Dorothy Day, the Holy Father, in a subtle way, takes up the cause of religious liberty without ever mentioning the term. Using these two Catholic "icons" of American history, he shows how these people of faith were instruments in advancing the common good.
It is important that the voices of faith continue to be heard in the public square, for if their contribution is muted, then the nation will lose a valuable resource for the promotion of human dignity. If we are forced to practice a faith that is limited to only "freedom of worship" and not the freedom to establish schools, hospitals and Catholic charities according to the dictates of our faith, our country will be the poorer because of it.
One final point. God and the dignity of the human person is always at the center of Catholic Social teaching. That is a dimension that many media commentators seem to miss. Thus they tend to reduce his remarks to right/left, liberal/conservative political categories. That just doesn't work! And we miss the central message if we allow these political categories to color our perceptions.
Just some thoughts.
(Father Mockel is vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland and pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda.)
Long lines crowded the way to Independence Hall in Philadelphia in advance of the pope's visit.
Climbing onto a statue provided some with the bests seats in town.
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