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The Early Catholic Tradition of Social Justice


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The Early Catholic Tradition of Social Justice

  1. 1. On Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation THE EARLY CATHOLIC TRADITION
  2. 2.  All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. – Acts 2: 44-47
  3. 3. PAUL; 2 COR. 8:13-15  I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, "The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little." JAMES; JAS. 2:15-18  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
  4. 4.  We who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need;…  And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. – 157 AD
  5. 5. Basil the Great • “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.” – 364 AD
  6. 6. Basil the Great “At this very moment, what prevents you from giving? Are not the needy near at hand? Are not your barns already full? Is not your heavenly reward waiting? Is not the commandment crystal clear? The hungry are perishing, the naked are freezing to death, the debtors are unable to breathe, and will you put off showing mercy until tomorrow?” – 364 AD
  7. 7. Gregory Nazianzen After sin came into the world, greed destroyed the original nobility of nature, and turned law into the handmaiden of the powerful. But you, do look to the original equality, not to the latter distinction; not to the law of the powerful, but to the law of the Creator. After sin came into the world, greed destroyed the original nobility of nature, and turned law into the handmaiden of the powerful. But you, do look to the original equality, not to the latter distinction; not to the law of the powerful, but to the law of the Creator. -378 AD
  8. 8. Ambrose of Milan “God ordered all things to be produced so that there would be common food for all, and so that the earth would be common inheritance of all. Thus, nature has produced a common right, but greed has made it the right of a few.” – 390 AD
  9. 9. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM “How think you that you obey Christ’s commandments, when you spend your time collecting interest, piling up loans, buying slaves like livestock, and merging business with business?... And that is not all. Upon all this you heap injustice, taking possession of lands and houses, and multiplying poverty and hunger.” -405 AD
  10. 10. “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” - 410 AD Augustine of Hippo
  11. 11. Augustine of Hippo “Some think to justify what they do. They give a little in charity of the lot they stole from the poor; or give a pittance to the one, out of what they took from the many. One mouth eats the food of the many. Many are stripped so one can dress. God does not want charity to be like that.” – 425 AD
  12. 12. Jerome I agree with the popular saying, that one is rich either through one’s own injustice or by inheriting from an unjust person. - 405AD
  13. 13. Gregory the Great “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.” – Homilies: 596 AD
  14. 14. “Consider carefully that it is not the people who call for peace but those who make peace who are commended. For there are those who talk but do nothing (Mt 23:3). For just as it is not the hearers of the law but the doers who are righteous (Rom 2:13), so it is not those who preach peace but the authors of peace who are blessed.” -1121 AD Bernard Of Clairvaux
  15. 15. Hildegard of Bingen “All of creation God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.” -1151 AD
  16. 16. Francis of Assisi “If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” – 1221 AD
  17. 17. Claire of Assisi  "We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others. “ - 1234 AD
  18. 18. Thomas Aquinas “In distributive justice something is given to a private individual, in so far as what belongs to the whole is due to the part.” – Summa: 1269 AD
  19. 19. “Do not close your eyes to the wrongs which your officials commit through bribery or neglect of the poor. Be a father to the impoverished as an almoner of what God has given you. See to it that the crimes committed in your kingdom are punished and that the good deeds are exalted and rewarded. All this is part of divine justice.” - Letter: 1374 AD Catherine of Siena
  20. 20. Catherine of Siena  Thus have I, [God] given you reason – necessity, in fact – to practice mutual charity. For I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my ministers, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me. - 1378 AD
  21. 21. Bartolome De Las Casas • “The Holy Spirit taught the prophet [Isaiah] the manner and means of forming the kingdom of Christ, the Christian people, of spreading it, of preserving it. Not by war. Not by force of arms. By the taste of peace, By an atmosphere of charity, by the works of kindness, of mercy, of modesty. This must be the way of calling and convincing people to believe in Christ.” – The Only Way, 1537
  22. 22. {  “The Lord is pleased only by those who keep to the way of truth and justice. The Most High does not accept the gifts of unjust people, He does not look well upon their offerings. Their sins will not be expiated by repeat- sacrifices. The one whose sacrifice comes from the goods of the poor is like one who kills his neighbor. The one who sheds blood and the one who defrauds the laborer are kin and kind.” – 1522 AD Bartalome De Las Casas
  23. 23. Ignatius of Loyola “Love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.... love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, for example, the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give; and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover. Hence, if one has knowledge, he shares it with the one who does not possess it; and so also if one has honors, or riches. Thus, one always gives to the other.” – Spiritual Exercises 1524 AD
  24. 24. "Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.“ - 1577 AD Theresa of Avila