The Need for a Social Doctrine

Several posts ago I began a discussion about the preferential option for the poor. This led to more reading on my part and a meeting yesterday with Sister Margaret Leonard of Project Hope in Boston. I interned at Project Hope as a seminarian and I have been fascinated by their work ever sense.

Well, through the discussion yesterday, I realized that before we can have any discussion about different social issues, the Orthodox Church needs a systematic study of Social Theory. The Roman Catholic Church has a large body of teaching in the area of Social Theory so I turned there to begin. Here is what I found. There are certain principles that we must adopt according to what we believe about God, the human person, and the community. Although different authors have different numbers of principles, 7-10 seems to be the agreed upon number. Some will differ only in how they include things or not. Here is the list;

The Principle of Human Dignity
The Principle of Respect for Human Life
The Principle of Association
The Principle of Participation
The Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable
The Principle of Solidarity
The Principle of Stewardship
The Principle of Subsidarity
The Principle of Human Equality
The Principle of the Common Good

Now this list comes in part from an essay in America Magazine by William Byron and also from a publication of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the US, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching. So we have a place to start. I believe that much could be written on each one of those principles, and I hope to be able to fill some of them out myself. I invite comment and perhaps this could be a cyber project to build on this.

1 Comment

  1. Father, are you familiar with “The Social Doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church,” published a couple years ago by the Moscow Patriarchate?

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