Our Special Responsibility
Social responsibility and awareness are vital to the Christian moral life. This is because there are no individual Christians. By its very nature, the Catholic Church is a community. A person can’t baptize, anoint, or get married by her- or himself. All the sacraments involve a community. Even if a priest celebrates the Eucharist alone, he’s still in communion with the bishops, all the faithful, and the communion of saints. Furthermore, a priest can’t hear his own confession. Therefore, Catholicism isn’t merely an individualistic spirituality. Although each individual has a private spirituality, the Church also has a communal spirituality that incorporates and elevates the private spirituality of its members. This keeps us from creating our own God and allows us to express our faith to enrich the life of the Church.
Thus, if our faith and spiritual lives always have a communal dimension, then it stands to reason that we should be concerned with the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the well-being of the entire world. Catholics realize their lives aren’t their own. The Church is a missionary. We are all called to go into the world to build the kingdom of God. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. We are called to help the world conform with the will of God. We are called to form a society based on God’s vision of humanity. Jesus Christ didn’t die so that only I could be saved. Jesus Christ brought light and salvation to the whole world. God wants all people to know his divine will and live holy lives that will lead them to an eternal relationship with him.
But how do we know what God’s will is and what it means to live a holy life? God is the author of the moral life. God has revealed the moral law to us through word and deed. The moral law of God stands outside of us. God gave it to us. The Magisterium of the Church, the College of Bishops in union with the pope, codifies this moral law. In other words, they inscribe and promulgate what has been revealed and how that revelation should impact the decisions we make as individuals and as a community.
God is greater than any national, political, or human endeavor. All of humanity should align with God’s plan for humanity. This means that the responsibility and awareness of social responsibility belongs to everyone. But as Catholics, we have a special responsibility to make certain that all of our social structures are based on what God has revealed so that justice and peace may flourish in the human family.