The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. [Think the “Domestic Church.”]
We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
It is not good for man to be alone
18The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.
I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper
In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground, 4while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. 6Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? 7If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.
8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then he LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth. 13Cain said to the LORD: “My punishment is too great to bear. 14Look, you have now banished me from the ground. I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth. Anyone may kill me at sight.” 15Not so! the LORD said to him. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times. So the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight.
If you act justly with one another, God will dwell in the land.
Jeremiah 7:5-7 Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with your neighbor; 6if you no longer oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow after other gods to your own harm, 7only then will I let you continue to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors long ago and forever.
Act justly, love kindness, walk humbly with God.
6 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12-17 15I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 17This I command you: love one another.
Life among the believers.
Acts 2:43-47 42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
We are one body, individually members one of another.
Romans 12:4-8 4 For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; 7if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; 8if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Rouse one another to love and good works.
Hebrews 10:24-25 24We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. 25We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Our faith is dead if we ignore others in need.
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
We ought to lay down our lives for one another.
1 John 3:16-18 16The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters.
1 John 4:19-21 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
“The family is thus an agent of pastoral activity through its explicit proclamation of the Gospel and its legacy of varied forms of witness, namely solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures, beginning in the territory in which the family lives, through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” (Pope Francis, On Love in the Family [Amoris Laetitia. . . ], no. 290, quoting the Final Report of the Synod of Bishops, 10/24/15)
Economic and social policies as well as organization of the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the strength and stability of family life. The long-range future of this nation is intimately linked with the well-being of families, for the family is the most basic form of human community. Efficiency and competition in the marketplace must be moderated by greater concern for the way work schedules and compensation support or threaten the bonds between spouses and between parents and children. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 93)
The first and fundamental structure for a “human ecology” is the family . . . founded on marriage, in which the mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 39)
Insofar as it is a “small-scale Church,”[AKA “the Domestic Church”] the Christian family is called upon, like the “large-scale Church,” to be a sign of unity for the world and in this way to exercise its prophetic role by bearing witness to the Kingdom and peace of Christ, towards which the whole world is journeying. Christian families can do this through their educational activity, that is to say by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice and love-both through active and responsible involvement in the authentically human growth of society and its institutions, and by supporting in various ways the associations specifically devoted to international issues. (St. John Paul II, The Family in the Modern World [Familiaris Consortio. . . ], no. 48)
Local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. . . . Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ’], nos. 179, 219) People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens, not as a mob swayed by the powers that be. Let us not forget that “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 220, quoting United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Nov. 2007, no. 13) Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 57) The primary norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the ”principle of subsidiarity” cited above. This principle states that, in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice exceed their capacities. This does not mean, however, that the government that governs least governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as that which truly “helps” other social groups contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as ”the occasion requires and necessity demands”. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 124) In order that the right to development may be fulfilled by action: (a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with their own culture; (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able to become the principal architects of their own economic and social development. (World Synod of Catholic Bishops, Justice in the World [Justica in Mundo. . . ], no. 71) But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 12)
*What you own belongs to the Lord and is given for the good of all.
Leviticus 25:23-43 23The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority. 24Therefore, in every part of the country that you occupy, you must permit the land to be redeemed. 25When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and has to sell some property, that person’s closest relative, who has the duty to redeem it, shall come and redeem what the relative has sold. 26If, however, the person has no relative to redeem it, but later on acquires sufficient means to redeem it, 27the person shall calculate the years since the sale, return the balance to the one to whom it was sold, and thus regain the property.28But if the person does not acquire sufficient means to buy back the land, what was sold shall remain in the possession of the purchaser until the year of the jubilee, when it must be released and returned to the original owner. 29 When someone sells a dwelling in a walled town, it can be redeemed up to a full year after its sale—the redemption period is one year. 30But if such a house in a walled town has not been redeemed at the end of a full year, it shall belong irrevocably to the purchaser throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31However, houses in villages that are not encircled by walls shall be reckoned as part of the surrounding farm land; they may be redeemed, and in the jubilee they must be released. 32 In levitical cities the Levites shall always have the right to redeem the houses in the cities that are in their possession. 33As for levitical property that goes unredeemed—houses sold in cities of their possession shall be released in the jubilee; for the houses in levitical cities are their possession in the midst of the Israelites. 34Moreover, the pasture land belonging to their cities shall not be sold at all; it must always remain their possession. 35When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you. 36Do not exact interest in advance or accrued interest,* but out of fear of God let your kindred live with you. 37 Do not give your money at interest or your food at a profit. 38I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39 When your kindred with you, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40Rather, let them be like laborers or like your tenants, working with you until the jubilee year, 41when, together with any children, they shall be released from your service and return to their family and to their ancestral property. 42Since they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, they shall not sell themselves as slaves are sold. 43Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God.