The integration of faith and justice is a fundamental dimension of the Christian life. In November 1986, twenty-seven years ago, the Catholic bishops in the United States adopted Economic Justice for All, a pastoral letter on the U.S. economy from the perspective of the Christian theological tradition. The document stimulated significant conversation around dinner tables that Thanksgiving and it continues to be a source of debate today.
Thanksgiving is a national holiday, an opportunity to acknowledge the blessings in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we mediate God’s blessings to others. The tradition of Catholic Social Teaching provides a framework for this kind of stock-taking.
In Economic Justice for All, the bishops challenge the very religious identity of the believer:
No one may claim the name of Christian and be comfortable in the face of hunger, homelessness, insecurity, and injustice found in this country and the world (27).
At the same time, they urge believers to contribute to building the common good according to their means:
The life and words of Jesus and the teaching of his Church call us to serve those in need and to work actively for social and economic justice. As a community of believers, we know that our faith is tested by the quality of justice among us, that we can best measure our life together by how the poor and the vulnerable are treated (8).
This message resonates today, twenty-seven years later, challenging Christians to ask themselves: How is God’s abundance manifest in my life? How do I express God’s abundance through my life? To put a fine point on it: How do faith and justice, service and advocacy, intersect in my life of faith?
See paragraph twenty-seven in chapter one and paragraph eight of the preface in Economic Justice for All, published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1986.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Associate Professor of Religious Studies