Evangelii Gaudium 182-185 will cover “The Church’s teaching on social questions.” These sections serve as an introduction to Pope Francis’ approach to two issues he believes are particularly pressing in today’s world (the inclusion of the poor in society, peace and social dialogue). We’ll get to the first of those issues by next week.
It is right that social doctrine will develop and be discussed as new challenges emerge:
182. The Church’s teachings concerning contingent situations are subject to new and further developments and can be open to discussion, yet we cannot help but be concrete – without presuming to enter into details – lest the great social principles remain mere generalities which challenge no one. There is a need to draw practical conclusions, so that they “will have greater impact on the complexities of current situations”.[Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 9]
All true. But life situations also demand the personal and particular reflection of those involved. Bringing one’s efforts to God in prayer gives needed perspective. Also humility–that it doesn’t depend on us at all.
Believers, including pastors, will not be shuttered away into a separate discourse:
The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven. We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfilment in eternity, for he has created all things “for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone. It follows that Christian conversion demands reviewing especially those areas and aspects of life “related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good”.[John Paul II, Ecclesia in America (22 January 1999), 27]