Social Justice

What is Social Justice?

  • What are you known for?
  • How is your life of prayer, community, and teaching?
  • What wonders and signs do you perform?
  • How do you share with those in need?

If you are performing works of charity and mercy now, what more can you do?

  • Work for justice! 
  • Donate and volunteer with organizations like GSCC Outreach, GRACE, and Catholic Charities.
  • Support our Bishops as they advocate for the vulnerable.
  • Join the Social Justice Ministry to help solve root causes of injustice (Robert Torres at ).
Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching has seven principlesforbuilding a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.  It is built upon Scripture and Church Tradition. 

Jesus’ work to build God’s Kingdom (a just society living in holiness) on earth continues. 

  • Learn more 
  • Read:  Isaiah 58:6-7
  • Read:  Matthew 9:13
  • Read:  Matthew 25:33ff
  • How do you help build the Kingdom of God on Earth? 
  • How do you live the words of God and Jesus? 
  • Who does Jesus stands with?

If you are performing works of charity and mercy now, what more can you do? 

  • Work for justice in God’s Kingdom on Earth!  
  • Give 5 minutes a week to help our Bishops solve root causes of injustice in God’s Kingdom!
  • If you have more to give, join the Social Justice Ministry.
  • Help as we work with Catholic Charities to Shelter 1 homeless family (14 people sheltered to date)! 
Did You Know?

Did you know that Scripture has over 2,000 verses about poverty, oppression, and injustice? God is pleading for us to love mercy and justice, feed the poor, and care for the least among us.

For more information about Social Justice, Social Sin, and Catholic Social Teaching, read, pray, and reflect on paragraphs 1928, 1931, 1869, and 2419-2422 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

 Current Issues

Poverty Awareness

Jesus taught “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”  (mentioned over 120 times in the Gospels)  Jesus focused on the vulnerable and outcasts, with whom He walked, talked, taught, comforted, healed, and fed.  Jesus lived in solidarity with the poor.  Do you?

  • "I want a Church which is poor and for the poor!" (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)
  • Join the U.S. Bishops and the Catholic Community in the United States in taking up Pope Francis' challenge to live in solidarity with the poor!
  • Learn about the many issues of poverty and activities during poverty awareness month (January), e.g., dignity for workers, migration, care for creation, restorative justice, and many more. 

Act!  If you are performing works of charity now, what more can you do? 

  • Join with the Social Justice Ministry and Catholic Charities!
  • Help us Shelter 1 homeless family (was sleeping in a car)! 
  • Working with Catholic Charities, we have helped 14 people move into shelter and begin the journey from crisis to stability to thriving!

Contact the Social Justice Ministry coordinator for details on how to get involved (Robert Torres,   )  

Shelter 1

The Good Shepherd Social Justice Ministry is performing a work of mercy and justice.  In spite of all that we do, there are still around 2000 unsheltered people in Tarrant County. 

  • If a homeless person is unsheltered it costs $20,000 per year for Police, Medical, etc.
  • In contrast, it costs $12,000 per year to shelter 1 homeless family with Catholic Charities (including family support by a case manager, shelter, mentoring, job search, etc.).
  • Catholic Charities knows of over 12 homeless families.

The Social Justice Ministry is working with Catholic Charities Fort Worth (their Bridge to Housing program). 

  • The Social Justice Ministry is helping Shelter 1 family.
  • To date, we have helped shelter 4 families (19 individuals-mostly women and children
  • We provide additional resources, support, and mentoring to CCFW in order to shelter one homeless family in our Diocese. 
  • We help that family move from crisis to stability to thriving.  

We call for your support in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Funding.  It costs $12,000 to shelter a person or small family for one year with CCFW.    
    • We have funding of around $1,000 to continue rent support.
    • $33 is sufficient to fund 1 day of shelter, $99 to provide shelter for 3 days, etc.
    • Refer to the attached document to help by cash, bank draft, or credit card.
  2. Support.  Provide help in the form of jobs with living wages is a major part of the program.  We will communicate skills of participants.  If you can provide or know of potential jobs that are a skills match, that is a major form of justice.
  3. Mentoring. A major part of the program is being present to a family being sheltered.  This can take the form of providing encouragement and guidance when necessary.  CCFW will provide training in this area for those who are interested.
Sheltering families 1 at a time
Please send financial donations to CCFW as follows
By Check
  1. Make out a check to Catholic Charities Fort Worth,
  2. and write "Bridge to Housing" in the Memo line.
  3. Mail it to

            Catholic Charities FW (c/o Willie Rankin)

            P.O. Box 15610

            Fort Worth, TX  76119

By Credit Card
  1. Click here for the Credit Card form
  2. Write “Bridge to Housing” in the Designated to (Program Name) field
  3. Mail to the CCFW address as shown in #3 above
By Bank Transfer
  1. Click here for the Electronic Fund Transfer (Bank Transfer) form
  2. Write “Bridge to Housing” at the bottom of the form (below the Date field)
  3. Mail to the CCFW address as shown in #3 above

By Monthly Donation
  1. Click here for the Electronic Fund Transfer (Bank Transfer) form (EFT form above)
  2. Write “Bridge to Housing” at the bottom of the form (below the Date field)
  3. Fill out the Pledge Card to be invoiced and pay by check
  4. Mail form and card to the CCFW address as shown in #3 above 

Any questions, please contact Robert Torres, Social Justice Ministry Coordinator,

Protect and Support Refugee Families

 Our Call to Action!

Mercy

Mercy is not an abstract concept but a lifestyle.  A Christian who chooses to be merciful experiences true life and has "eyes to see, ears to listen, and hands to comfort!"

How sensitive or immune are you to the needs of the poor?

  •          Do you see pain, and do not touch it?
  •          Do you hear weeping, but do not comfort it?
  •          Do you see injustice, but say and do nothing about it?

‘As you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’ (or, if you ignore others you ignore Me)

Act!  Touch those in need!  Learn more:

If you are performing works of charity and mercy now, what more can you do?  Work for justice! 

Inform and Form Your Conscience

Catholics must deal with many moral issues in an informed manner.  Our Bishops provide guidance on how to inform and form your conscience.  Review and act upon the following

  1. Forming Your Conscience

  2. Review issues and Catholic teaching

  3. Learn!  Review the following on the Bishops Web Site

    • Scripture (but learn the official teaching and meaning of the Word)

    • Catechism

    • Social Teaching

4.  Examine your conscience

5.  Pray!!!

6.  Fear no evil and trust in God!  (Psalm 23)

7.  Act!  Be compassionate, merciful, and work for Justice!

Living a Socially Just Life
THE LEAST OF MY BROTHERS (MATTHEW 25: 34)
‘I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ The corporal and spiritual works of mercy, commandments, beatitudes, and recent Church teachings give us concrete examples for how to love others. Consider what you can personally do (time, talent, treasure) - starting at home and reaching out to others via GSCC Connect Groups in Ministry. 
Be A Faithful Citizen

Pope Francis Says:  "Participate for the common good."

God and Jesus (in Scripture), our Catechism, Pope Francis, and our Bishops teach us to care for creation and each other.  Pope Francis and our Bishops also teach us to participate in “politics” for the common good.

  • We must form our conscience and deal simultaneously with all life, dignity, and justice issues like 
    • Abortion
    • Death Penalty
    • Family
    • Environment
    • Homelessness
    • Living Wage
    • Refugees
    • In Vitro Ferilization
    • End of Life
    • Human Rights
    • Hunger
    • Economic Justice
    • Racism
    • Imprisonment System
    • and many more (Human Life, Dignity, and Justice
  • Inform your conscience about all issues (not just one)
  • How do your preferred political party, candidate(s), and you conform to God’s values?
  • After the election, the journey continues.  Apply the best of yourself and your values so that leaders govern for the common good based upon Catholic input.
  • Imagine what our lives and country would be like if guided by the values of the Kingdom of God and the decisions God would make if our elected leaders were not in the way!

Learn more!  Our Bishops provide the following guidance.

Beatitudes
Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) give us more guidance for being like Jesus.
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
  • Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Catholic Teaching on Creation

Catholic social teaching, Pope Francis, our bishops, our Catechism, and Scripture teach that we all share the vocation of healing, tending, and caring for a wounded earth.  Care for the earth is a requirement of our faith -- out of reverence and respect for God and His creation and to be a neighbor to the poor, who suffer the most from abuses of the environment. 

  • Pope Francis says: “Nurturing and cherishing creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us.”
  • Our Bishops call for action to mitigate global climate change based on social and economic justice. 
  • Our Catechism teaches us to avoid disordered use of things in contempt of the Creator, causing disastrous consequences for us and the environment.

How do you show respect for the Creator by your stewardship of creation?  How are you called to cultivate and care for God's creation?

If you are performing works of charity and mercy now, what more can you do? 

  • Work for justice in God’s Kingdom on Earth by helping our Bishops solve root causes of injustice!
  • If you have more to give, join the Social Justice Ministry.
  • Help as we work with Catholic Charities to Shelter 1 homeless family (14 people sheltered to date)! 
  • Contact the Social Justice Ministry coordinator (Robert Torres at   ).

 Practical Ideas for Action

  1. Conduct a Plastic Audit to find out how much plastic you are throwing away in a week.  At the end of the week, conduct another one and compare the results.
  2. Pledge to remove all single-use plastics from your home, parish, school, or religious community by a certain date. Think about alternatives to plastic dinnerware (cups, plates, knives, spoons, and forks), and disposable plastic bottles. Find biodegradable or washable substitutes. Estimate how much plastic you have avoided.  A plastic pollution calculator is available here.
  3. Coffee cups: If your church serves coffee in the lobby on Sundays, encourage the congregation to start bringing their own non-disposable cups. Have a “mug drive” and encourage everyone to donate one of their extras. Setting out the mugs on the table next to the coffee pot is a good way to reduce paper and plastic waste. How many plastic disposables have you kept out of the landfill or away from streams?
  4. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic, such as plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging (anything that’s intended to be used only once and then discarded). Try the TOP 4 challenge (refusing plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups & straws). Pledge to do this for a period of time (summer, a month, a week) and find ways to measure how much plastic your community reduces during that time.
  5. Does your community use plastic disposable bags while shopping? Initiate a local public information campaign to help people understand the threat that the planet faces due to plastic pollution. Advocate for a plastic bag ban in your community. Perhaps you can sell reusable cloth bags with your community’s logo and Laudato Si’ quote emblazoned on the sides.
  6. Plan a beach, stream, park cleanup. Estimate the amount of plastic you remove form the environment.
  7. Refuse “Styrofoam” (polystyrene) food and drink containers.  Advocate for a Styrofoam ban in your community.
  8. Promote the Beyond a Throwaway Culture Program with weekly tips in your bulletins, on a bulletin board, or newsletters.
  9. Get buy-in with your community by finding a common project to work on and then promote that one. Be creative!
  10. Incorporate creation care into your worship experiences during your community’s challenge. Check out the Covenant’s website for worship/prayer resources.
  11. Remember to estimate the amount of plastic reduction you accomplish and report back to Catholic Climate Covenant. 
Catholic Teaching on Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers

Work is more than a way to earn money.   Work is ongoing participation in God’s creation.  Catholic Social Teaching leads us to protect the dignity of work and respect the basic rights of workers, e.g., 

  •  The right to productive work
  • Fair (and living) wages (in Matthew 20:1-16, all workers received a living wage at the end of the day!)
  • Organization and joining of unions
  • Private property
  • Economic  initiative 

Learn more from Scripture and Church Tradition and inform your conscience.

Catholic Teaching on Immigration

God the Father continuously asks us to do challenging things.  Jesus does too!  Lent is a good time to reflect on our challenges in building the Kingdom of God on earth.

  • God may challenge you to become an immigrant and leave your home, as he told Abraham.  (Genesis 12: 1-4) 
  • Jesus does challenge you to “Love your enemies!” (Mt 5:43-48)  You may think of an immigrant or refugee as an enemy.
  • How much do you really trust God?  (Psalm 23:1-4)
  • How do you respond to others when God calls on you to do something uncomfortable?
Learn more!

Catholics must deal with many human life, dignity, and justice issues in an informed manner, e.g., welcoming immigrants and refugees. 
  • Pope Francis and our Bishops provide guidance on how to inform and form your conscience, as well acting and talking in a manner consistent with Catholic Teaching about refugees and immigrants. 
  • Review “Your Faith and Immigration”  and “See with the Heart of Jesus”.
  • Pray, examine your conscience, and act with compassion and mercy towards refugees and immigrants! 

If you are performing works of charity and mercy now, what more can you do?  Work for justice and help resolve root causes!  Join the Social Justice Ministry.

  • Give 5 minutes a week to support our Bishops in solving the causes of injustice in the Kingdom of God on Earth!
  • If you have more to give, join with the Social Justice Ministry and Catholic Charities as we Shelter 1 homeless family (our 3rd) in Tarrant County! 
  • Contact the Social Justice Ministry coordinator (Robert Torres at   ).
Corporal Works of Mercy

Matthew 25: 34 is the source of these. Catholic CharitiesGSCC Outreach Ministries and others listed below assist you in performing corporal works of mercy.

 
1. Feed the hungry (GRACE and Union Gospel Mission)
2. Give drink to the thirsty (GRACE)
3. Clothe the naked (GRACE)
4. Visit the prisoners (Prison Ministry)
5. Shelter the homeless (ChristCareGRACETrinity Habitat for Humanity)
7. Bury the dead (Lazarus and Bethany ministries)
Respect Life, Dignity, and Justice for all God's People

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”  Jeremiah 1:4

As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, continue the work of respecting the life, dignity, and rights of the unborn and born – especially the poor and unwelcome.  

  • Threats to human life include abortion, reproductive technology, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, the death penalty, war, the environment (Creation), and more.
  • Threats to human dignity include poverty, hunger, homelessness, work without living wages, unaffordable medical care, and more.
  • What will you do when you see human life, dignity, and justice threatened?

God loves each human life from the instant of conception.  God entrusts the gifts of life, dignity, and justice to our protection as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and neighbors.  

For example:

  • Abortion ends the life of an unborn child.  It offends God and wounds the men and women involved.
    • How do you respect God and life as a steward of human life? 
    • Read!  Learn more about Catholic Teaching on Abortion.  See our Catechism at USCCB.org and read https://tinyurl.com/CST-Abortion.
  • Execution ends the life of a human being.   The Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and our U.S. and Texas Bishops are against execution.  

    • God's view is in scripture (He didn't kill Cain after the murder of Abel ... and God actually protected Cain … Genesis 4).
    • Jesus halted an execution (John 8:1-11).
    • Read!  Learn more about Catholic Teaching on Execution.  See our Catechism at USCCB.org and read https://tinyurl.com/CST-Execution
  • Human reproductive technology and human embryonic stem cell research ends the life of more unborn humans than abortion.  It offends God, takes Him out of creation of human life, and wounds the men and women involved.

    Learn more about Catholic Teaching on Reproductive Technology and Stem Cell Research.  See our Catechism at USCCB.org and read https://tinyurl.com/CST-IVF  and https://tinyurl.com/CST-StemCell 
  • Poverty, homelessness, and hunger affect the life and dignity of tens of millions of human beings every single day – mostly because of human injustice.   

    • Scripture has over 2,000 verses about poverty, oppression, and injustice.
    •  Jesus focused on the vulnerable and outcasts, with whom He walked, talked, taught, comforted, healed, and fed. 
    • Jesus lived in solidarity with the poor.
    Learn more about Catholic Teaching on life, dignity, and justice.  See our Catechism at USCCB.org and read https://tinyurl.com/CST-Overview
Spiritual Works of Mercy
1. Admonish the sinner
2. Instruct the ignorant 
3. Counsel the doubtful 
4. Comfort the sorrowful
5. Bear wrongs patiently 
6. Forgive all injuries
7. Pray for the living and dead  
 
Teaching of Charitable Works and Social Justice

SCRIPTURE HAS OVER 2,000 VERSES ABOUT POVERTY, OPPRESSION, AND INJUSTICE!  GOD IS ASKING YOU TO LOVE MERCY AND JUSTICE, FEED THE POOR, SHELTER THE HOMELESS, REDUCE OPPRESSION AND INJUSTICE, AND CARE FOR THE LEAST AMONG US.  READ ISAIAH 58: 6-7.

“This rather is the fasting that I wish…

  • Release those bound unjustly
  • Untie the thongs of the yoke
  • Set the oppressed free, break every yoke
  • Clothe the naked when you see them
  • Share your bread with the hungry
  • Shelter the oppressed and the homeless!”

To be a Catholic disciple on mission calls you to put the Two Feet of Love into Action!  There are two distinct, but complementary, ways to put the Gospel into action.  God calls you to respond to His love through

  • Charitable Works -- short-term, emergency assistance for individuals
  • Social Justice -- address systemic, root causes of problems that hurt many 

You are called to pray, serve, and be generous with the poor and vulnerable. 

  •  Jesus teaches us to live and work for others.
  • The Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12; Lk 6:20-23) tell us that the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor and to those who stand with them, show mercy to them, and hunger for justice (and really trust in God).
  • Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them.”
  • The Catechism says: Jesus makes charity the new commandment.

 Service and generosity includes helping change root cause conditions that oppress human dignity and cause needless human poverty and suffering (justice). 

  • Ask “why there are so many poor, homeless, hungry, oppressed, prisoners, immigrants, refugees?”
  • What “root causes” result in so many to suffer needlessly?
  • Lack of a living wage?  Lack of affordable housing?  Your personal attitudes?  Other?
  • How are you working to change your status quo of performing charitable works and working on social justice?

An Example.  In spite of all that we are doing, there are over 1,900 homeless in Tarrant County.  Some 93% of them are vulnerable

  •  Children                    29%
  •  Women                     24%  (domestic violence)
  •  Mentally ill                19%
  •  Chronic homeless   11% (disabled, etc.)
  •  Veterans                    10% (PTS, etc.)

How can you help assure charity, justice and dignity of life for the poor and the vulnerable?  Here are some options.  What others do you have?

  1. Charity.  Donate additional funds to Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW) Bridge to Housing program.  $33 shelters a homeless person for a day at CCFW.
  2. Charity.  Volunteer your time and talent directly to CCFW homeless programs as a mentor or in other capacities.
  3. Justice.  Support the Social Justice Ministry’s Shelter 1 Project, which provides additional funds and support to CCFW’s Bridge to Housing program to shelter one (1) Tarrant County homeless person/family. 
    1. Along with your current charitable donations, give an additional $1 a week ($50 per year) to help CCFW shelter a homeless person. 
    2. During that time, CCFW case workers and mentors guide a homeless person/family from crisis to stability to thriving in jobs with living wages, savings, and appropriate debt.
    3. Tell your family and friends about the Shelter 1 Project and become an advocate for their participation. 
    4.  For more information, contact the Social Justice Ministry coordinator (Robert Torres,  .
  4. Justice.  Value workers by providing and/or advocating for a living wage for all workers ($22 an hour in Tarrant County for 1 adult and 1 child), including lawn care workers, housekeepers, restaurant workers, car wash workers, etc.
  5. Justice.  When you purchase food, goods, and services, ensure that providers and workers are slave free and earn a living wage.

Reflection:  Pope Francis says

  • “The example of the martyrs also teaches us the importance of charity in the life of faith.…
  • It was their refusal to separate the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor which impelled them to such great solicitude for the needs of the brethren.
  • Their example has much to say to us who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded; and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need.”

ACT!!!

  • Pray for strength in compassion, mercy, and justice.
  • If you are charitable now, then work for justice.
  • Volunteer for outreach opportunities at GSCC.
  • Join the Social Justice Ministry (contact Robert Torres,  )

More References

Catholic Social Teaching

Two Feet of Love

Living Wage Calculator

Ten Commandments (A Social Justice View)
The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4:6ff. The following is an elaboration with positive aspects to enhance our union with God and neighbors (from Invitation: The Search for God, Self, and Church).
 
1. You shall honor no other God but me.
Against idolatry of self, others, or the state.
For faith in a loving and forgiving God.
2. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord, your God.
Against irreverence for God and people or making light of the mystery of their relationship.
For the reverence and value of the mystery of God and human beings..
3. You shall keep holy the sabbath day.
Against refusal to acknowledge our dependence on God's love and mercy and providential care for all creation.
For a proper observance of the Christian Sunday by attendance at the Eucharist, attention to family nurturing, and rest from our labors.
4. You shall honor your father and mother.
Against any force or influence that weakens or destroys family life for all creation.
For behavior that builds strong, Christian family life.
5. You shall not kill.
Against those who deny or destroy the sacredness of human life by murder, torture, abortion, euthanasia, etc.
For honoring of every human life as sacred.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
Against dehumanizing sexuality and irreverence to the marriage vow of fidelity. Sins include adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, incest, masturbation, divorce, and pornography.
For human dignity and fulfillment in light of covenant love, fidelity in marriage, chastity, and the positive role of sexuality in marital love..
7. You shall not steal.
Against stealing personal property, including exploitation of the poor.
For protection of personal property and economic justice for poor and oppressed people.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Against lying, cheating, and defamation of character.
For the values of truth and honesty in society.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
Against lust and the permission of disordered passions.
For the value of humans as worthy of love and reverence, coupled with respect for the marriage vows.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Against greed, great desire for wealth, or exploitation of the environment.
For wholesome love of creation, poverty of spirit, and loving care for the word's environment.
Copyright © 2006, Paulist Evangelization Ministries. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
The Greatest Commandment
The Greatest Commandments are found in in Luke 10:25-28 and Deuteronomy 6:5 of The New American Bible, Revised Edition.  
  1. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all our mind,
  2. and your neighbor as yourself.
 
Neighbor: Jesus clarifies what it means to be someone's neighbor in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 29-37). The neighbor in the parable is a Samaritan, who would be considered an enemy by Jews. 
 
What if: Imagine yourself as a totally vulnerable victim laying in a ditch when your "enemy" shows up. How would you want to be treated?  If you came upon your enemy laying vulnerable in a ditch, what would you do? 
Teaching on Execution
Resources
Social Justice and You

Staff Lead:  Liz Origenes

Ministry Lead: Robert Torres