One Human Family

Background Article

Our Church teaches that we are one human family. As children of God, we are brothers and sisters called to be responsible for one another. Loving our brothers and sisters throughout the world requires that we work for peace and justice.

“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

Pope Francis, Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development, 7/14/2014

These brothers and sisters include immigrants to our country, both legal and illegal. Our U.S. bishops have advocated a viable path to citizenship for the undocumented, more generous family reunification policies, and a temporary worker program. In “Strangers No Longer,” the bishops state that nations have the right to control their borders. They also state that this right must be balanced against the right of persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights. It all comes down to a matter of balancing. A nation has a responsibility to the common good of its own people and this must be balanced against a need for universal common good.

Additionally, the bishops recognize that there are conditions that compel people to leave their homes out of desperation and lack of opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. These issues must be addressed if an effective and comprehensive response to migration is to be achieved in our country.

  • What do I know about the immigration issues in the United States?
  • Do I pray that there be justice for all who migrate to our country?

Brothers and Sisters to Us
USCCB’s Pastoral Letter on Racism, 1979

Migrant and Refugee Children Resources
Downloadable fact sheets from the USCCB

Photo by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Protectors of Creation

Background Article

As the Church continually states in her teachings on stewardship, we have an obligation to respect and care for God’s creation. There is, fortunately, a growing awareness that we need to make greater efforts to conserve our natural resources, recycle what we can, and be less wasteful in general. God calls us to be good stewards of every gift has has given us. Stewardship involves governments, corporations, communities, families, and individuals.

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

Pope Francis, Inauguration, 3/19/13

One of the greatest gifts of creation is the tremendous variety of animal and plant life on our planet. We are finally learning that these, too, should be used prudently. Many medicines are derived from rare plants, and the benefits we gain from these plants, are important to human life. We need to be concerned not only about people, but all living things, because all of God’s creation is a gift.

  • Do I appreciate and respect the beauty of various kinds of plants and animals?
  • How do I show this respect and live out the call to protect God’s creation?


Environment Justice Program

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CST 101 | Care for God’s Creation
From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

Photo by mypubliclands

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A Dignified Livelihood

Background Article

The Church recognizes the dignity of work and the reality that workers have rights. Among these rights is a just wage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls a just wage the “legitimate fruit of work” (2434). Such wages allow workers to provide a healthy livelihood for themselves and their families. Proper compensation for work connects to the common good. When hard-working people do not receive just wages, all of society suffers. The family is affected negatively in terms of relationships and health.

Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner.

Rerum Novarum (“On the Condition of Labor and the Working Classes”), Pope Leo XIII, 45

Profits are never more important than people. Yet sometimes people are marginalized for the sake of the bottom line. Businesses, corporations, and all economic activity are good in as much as they serve the needs of people (CCC 2432). Work, a form of continuing our participation in God’s creation, is our way of providing for a dignified livelihood.

  • How does another worker’s unjust wage affect me?
  • What prices am I willing to pay to support those companies and business who place people over profits?
  • What responsibility do I have to help others seek a dignified livelihood?

The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Campaign for Human Development
from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Healing Children of War

Background Article

In some corners of the earth, especially in the poorest countries, children and adolescents are the victims of a terrible form of violence: they are enlisted to fight in the so-called “forgotten wars.” Indeed, they suffer a doubly scandalous aggression: they are made victims of war, and at the same time forced to play the lead in it, swept away in the hatred of adults. Stripped of everything, they see their future threatened by a nightmare difficult to dispel. Our youngest “brothers and sisters” who suffer from hunger, war and diseases are launching an anguished appeal to the adult world. May their cry of pain not go unheard!

Pope John Paul II, Angelus, March 28, 2004

UNICEF estimates that yearly more than 300,000 children (under the age of 18) are suffering from involvement in armed conflicts around the world (see US State Department’s Fact Sheet). Such sufferings violate the dignity of these children. Many of these children endure human trafficking, labor exploitation, military recruitment, and forced combatants (see the UN’s Six Grave Violations). Some of the worse violators include the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

In 2007, more than 50 countries approved “The Paris Commitments,” to end the use of child soldiers. The US Federal Government actively works to address the needs of children in armed conflict. Various bureaus and agencies (such as USAID) within different departments, like State Department, work on reporting and preventing violations of human rights. In 2008 Congress passed the Child Soldier Prevention Act, which restricts funding and assistance to those governments known for human trafficking and child soldier recruitment.

Children living in countries where wars are taking place need to be protected. The children need to be healed and comforted, then returned to normal society. Some of the countries do not have enough money to help the children on their own. Various organizations and groups within the Catholic Church work to protect children and help them recover. Catholic missions have special recovery homes for children who were forced to fight or who were harmed by war. With the help of Catholic Relief Services, the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate have helped rehabilitate former child soldiers in Uganda (see the Baltimore Archdiocese’s Catholic Review’s article).

  • How much am I aware of the rights of others? Rights I myself have?
  • How do I fulfill my responsibilities related to these rights?


Photo by Panoramas

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Centering Faith in the Home

Background Article

The Church teaches that parents have an essential role in the faith formation of their children. This role is so crucial that the Church refers to the parents as the primary educators of their children.

Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor.

Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), 3

In many parishes, children celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time in the Second Grade. If your parish is one of these, keep in mind that this is a critical time to involve parents and other family members. Together work toward centering the preparation for these sacraments in the home. As parents gain confidence in introducing their children to the Sacraments and sharing their faith with them, they will be proud of their role and see it as rightfully theirs. Parents will also appreciate the roles of the catechist and parish community in sustaining and supporting their family in the Catholic faith.

  • How I do involve the parents and family in the faith formation of their children?
  • How can I help parents see themselves as the “primary educators” of their children, especially in regards to the faith formation of their children?

CST 101 | Call to Family, Community, and Participation

From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

Photo by mayrpamintuan

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Respecting the Rights of Others

Background Article

The Church teaches that we have a duty, both as individuals and as a community, to protect the rights of others. At the core of all inherent rights is the dignity of the human person and the right to life. Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community achieved only when the rights of all people are protected and our responsibilities of all people are met. We, therefore, have responsibilities to one another, to our families, and to society in general.

Every basic human right draws its authoritative force from the natural law, which confers it and attaches to it its respective duty.  Hence, to claim one’s rights and ignore one’s duties, or only half fulfill  them, is like building a house with one hand and tearing it down with the  other.

Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), 30

As a starting place, people within a family need to be just with each other. Each person has rights and duties within the family community. To be just, each person must respect the rights of other family members. Everyone needs to fulfill their family obligations as well. This then extends to the parish community, and the world community.

  • How do I respect the rights of others as well as my own?
  • What family obligations do I have and how do they relate to honoring each family member?

Resources on Rights and Responsibiltieis
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Photo by Just Taken Pics

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Helping Others Like Jesus

Background Article

Our Church teaches that the need to promote and preserve the dignity of individuals is essential to justice. Catholic social teaching calls us to give preference to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. This raises an important issue that is often overlooked. Although we may seek to ensure that those in need receive the basic necessities, often the administration of social programs can sometimes dehumanize those who need help.

The needs of the poor take  priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the  maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled  industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for  military purposes.

USCCB, Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, 94, 1986

Therefore, we should look to the Gospels and observe how Jesus treated the poor and sick. Jesus gives a clear example of the need to respect those to whom we minister. We should periodically review our charitable programs and actions and keep Jesus words in mind, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Let’s remember that we are ministering to the Lord himself.

  • Which Gospel story about Jesus and the disenfranchised comes to mind?
  • How might I apply this Gospel story to my own life?

Option of the Poor and Vulnerable Resources
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

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Promote a Culture of Life

Background Article

The Catholic Church teaches that every human being has been created by God in his divine image and is precious to him. This is why the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person are the foundation of Catholic social teaching.

We are asked to love and honor the life of every man and woman and to work with perseverance and courage so that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love.

Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life), 77

In our society today, human life is under direct attack from abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, and the death penalty. Every Catholic has the moral obligation to protect human life from conception until natural death.

  • Which of the life issues do I think is in most need of advocacy today?
  • What are some ways that I can help to promote a Culture of Life?

Culture of Life Resources
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CST 101 | Life and Dignity of the Human Person
From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

Photo by lunar caustic

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