Dec 28, 2017
So 2017 is just about over. Once again, it has been quite an eventful year. In January Donald Trump assumed the Presidency. Whatever you think of him, he certainly is a provocative person. With his initiatives we have witnessed the debates about immigration and proposed travel bans, how to handle healthcare, and tax reform. We have experienced the struggles of some people in his administration as well as the controversial investigation of the possibility of Russia’s involvement in our elections and the question about any possible collusion with Russia by his campaign. We have heard of the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s lost emails. We have witnessed the dramatic fall of many entertainers, journalists, and politicians due to allegations of sexual harassment, and the pervasiveness of sexual harassment with the “me, too” movement. We have all been concerned with the frightening threats of nuclear attacks coming from North Korea. We have seen the wrath of Mother Nature at work with Hurricanes Harvey especially (in Houston) and Marie (especially in Puerto Rico.) We have heard of devastating earthquakes in Mexico and Iran/Iraq. There have been the hard to absorb mass shootings in Las Vegas and at a church in Texas. These were followed by the debates over gun control in our country. We heard of a congressman being shot while practicing for a congressional charity baseball game. We witnessed the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. We have observed the debate over whether transgender people can use public bathrooms and whether a person can refuse to provide a service for people who are doing something that the service provider is opposed to. Is it discrimination or religious freedom? On a lighter note, we saw a rare total solar eclipse this year, too. There were certainly a lot more things, and more positive events, but these came quickly to mind.
No matter where you weigh in on these various issues and concerns, it is certainly complicated! As Catholic people of faith, how do we navigate these complex issues? How should we respond?
One of the things I have found helpful is Catholic Social Teaching. These teachings have sometimes been called the “hidden treasure” of the church. Over the years, the Church has taken the principles of the Gospels and applied them to the complex issues that arise wherever and whenever people try to live together. Seven key principles have emerged: 1) Life and Dignity of the Human Person, 2) Call to Family, Community, and Participation, 3) Rights and Responsibilities, 4) Option for the Poor and the Vulnerable, 5) the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, 6) Solidarity, and 7) Care for God’s Creation. These principles don’t tell us exactly what to do in every situation, but they do give us guidance about how to live morally and responsibly in this sometimes confusing world and live out the values of the Gospel. 2018 will probably bring more of the same and more complexity! It is not going to be any easier to live a Gospel centered life in the coming year! It might be a good New Year’s resolution to explore this wisdom of the Church. You can find more information on the US Bishop’s website, or just google “Catholic Social Teaching.” May we experience the peace promised by the angels to all people of goodwill! A blessed New Year to all!