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Catholic Social Ethics

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Values, Paradigms, and Convictions: Assessing Recent Catholic Sociopolitical Engagement with Anthropological Concepts

On November 30, 2013, Ross Douthat offered a thoughtful reflection in the New York Times entitled “The Pope and the Right” in which he considered how politically and economically conservative U.S. Catholics might respond to the economic vision articulated by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Although a critique of this particular article might prima facie seem limited in scope, such an analysis in fact highlights the concepts of fundamental values, root paradigms and “global pre-scientific convictions” in a way that can contribute to broader questions and assessments of Catholic responses to Evangelii Gaudium in particular and Pope Francis in general.

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The Incarnational Principle of Divine Love: The Preferential Option for the Poor in the Francis Moment – MT Dávila

A number of years ago, as I was trying to finalize my dissertation proposal at a large Catholic university, I ran into some problems. My topic was the preferential option for the poor and U.S. middle-class Christians. I knew I was stretching some of the boundaries of theological ethics by focusing on class analysis and the philosophical underpinnings of “The American Dream” as obstacles to faithful expression of the option for the poor in the U.S.

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The Feast of St. Francis: Avoiding ‘Birdbath Franciscanism’ Through Environmental Advocacy

Today, Catholics celebrate the feast of one of the church’s most beloved saints, Francis of Assisi. Francis had both a special concern for the poor and a deep appreciation for God’s presence in all creation, and in recognition of this unique charism Blessed Pope John Paul II declared Francis patron saint of “those who promote ecology” in 1979. That declaration has caused Francis to be associated in the minds of many Catholics with the church’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

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Wealth Creation and Human Dignity

Although Meghan Clark and Joseph Tetlow, S.J. have raised some important criticisms of Stacie Beck’s contention that the “social justice agenda” of many Catholics ignores certain basic truths of capitalist economics, they downplay the extent to which the provision of certain basic human rights is dependent on the creation of wealth. The Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain provides guidance on how to maintain both the grounding of human rights in universal human dignity and the contingency of concrete rights, a balance necessary in the current age of austerity.

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On the Force-feeding of Hunger Strikers

Currently there are about 100 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay Detention on hunger strike (89 of whom have been determined to be innocent of accusations but not released and some of whom have been on hunger strike for more than 106 days) and an estimated “2,493 inmates in 15 state prisons are participating in a mass hunger strike” (Democracy Now 7/17/13). At Gitmo, periodic hunger strikes have been going on for a number of years, prisoners are protesting unlawful imprisonment, cruel treatment and lack of transparency; many prisoners are being force fed.

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Same-Sex Marriage in the Supreme Court—Michael J. Perry

DOMA’s exclusion of same-sex marriages violated equal protection, the Court ruled, because the exclusion was based on a demeaning view of same-sex marriages—a view of such marriages as, in the words of the Court, “second-class”: morally inferior to opposite-sex marriages.The Supreme Court reached the correct decision in United States v. Windsor, in my judgment, but Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court was much less clear than it should have been about why DOMA’s exclusion of same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

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