In death as in life – supporting the dying and the bereaved

Catholic social teaching rarely seems to touch on issues of death, dying, bereavement and so on, except, of course, in debates around euthanasia and medical choices made when caring for those close to death. But what about questions related to the care of those who are close to death, bereavement and the practicalities that inevitably arise when a member of the family dies? Many of the usual questions that are raised by Catholic social teaching pertain. What should be the role of the family, civil society, the Church and the state? How is the common good best promoted, remembering that the common good is about bringing society to a higher state of perfection? We cannot do that unless we are faithful companions to those who are dying and help those who are bereaved.

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The family, the common good and government

St. Mary’s University continued its series of events on the Common Good, working with Caritas Social Action Network, the Centre for Social Justice and Together for the Common Good. The first event in the series can be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23N5rqHn7FI and the second event on The Common Good and the Family will be available from the youtube channel shortly. Below is Cristine Odone’s contribution to the second event.

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The meaning of the common good and social justice

What is the common good? The definition that is used in almost all discussion in Catholic circles in the English-speaking world is taken from paragraph 26 of Gaudium et spes which was a document arising from the Second Vatican Council. The common good was defined as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment”. This is also the definition that is used in the English language translation of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

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Property and human dignity – the prophetic message of Pope Leo XIII

There is a temptation to play down those aspects of Rerum novarum which related to private property. This encyclical was really about labour, it is argued. Or it is suggested that the right to property is only a secondary right subject to the universal destination of goods and therefore not important. Still others say it was an encyclical that, in this respect, reflected its time – a period when the Church’s property was under attack from extreme socialists.

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Mother Teresa as a leader – what can today’s political leaders learn?

Mother Teresa

At a time when the public and the media are examining the moral compass of politicians and other public leaders, for example through the lobbying revelations of the current government, it is helpful to reflect upon what today’s political leaders can learn from leaders of the past. One such, although surprising, choice of leader to reflect upon is Mother Teresa. She is an interesting choice as she contradicts many of the common traits of today’s political leaders.   

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Adding diversity to the university

stained glass

Globally, there are 1,400 Catholic universities. They make a substantial contribution to the intellectual life of the Church. However, there are few Catholic higher education institutions in the UK. There is a reason for this. After the hierarchy was restored in England and Wales, the focus was on building schools and then churches without much thought being given to higher education. Indeed, most of our Catholic higher education institutions evolved from teacher training colleges.

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Citizenship and Education

In this post I explore citizenship education through the lens of Catholic teaching on education. I also make reference to Pope Leo XIII’s teaching on citizenship. I show that there is such a thing as a Christian ‘idea’ of citizenship. This might not sit comfortably in a society which seeks to marginalise (intentionally or unintentionally), the Christian voice.

Citizenship, education and religion 

How citizenship education in the Catholic school is both understood and taught makes it a crucial feature of the contemporary educational scene.

 

Citizenship education flows from a political or civic desire to build community cohesion – universally deemed a ‘good thing’. How to promote, far less achieve, this in a multi-cultural society remains problematic.

 

For some, citizenship education is a ‘secular’ version of religious education: values emerge, it seems, from reason alone without a concomitant contribution from revealed religion. Although religious belief and practice should be fundamental parts of citizenship education, contemporary articulations of citizenship education minimise discussion of the difficult issues arising from religious faith or identity. Nonetheless, the number of children of all faiths and none who are educated in Catholic schools should place the Catholic school not at the margins but at the heart of citizenship education.

 

Religions, of course, are an expression of diversity. This leads to the following question: is contemporary education a means of monopolising thought and values within a conceptual framework which purports to be inclusive but, intentionally or otherwise, fails in this objective?

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© Catholic Social Thought 2020