Earlier this year, I happened to read a book called, “The Bible and the Believer”, ecumenically written by Peter Enns (Protestant), Daniel J Harrington (Catholic), and Mark Zvi Brettler (Jewish). In this book, the authors discuss key differences and similarities in ways each of their respective groups relate to the text of the bible.
As a Protestant working in a Catholic school, I’ve found every possible reason to agree with Harrington in his claim that “Catholic socio-ethical teaching is one of the world’s best kept secrets” (80). Not only is Catholic socio-ethical teaching easily available for both children and adults, but it summarizes various themes throughout the Old and New Testaments in how Christians should love themselves and their neighbors. This year, I have enjoyed weaving main ideas from Catholic Social Teaching (CST) throughout lessons with students, in addition to anchoring sections of scripture. During our final week of school, students analyzed how these themes intersected the many topics we learned this year.
#1 Care of the Human Person
#2 Call to Family and Community
#3 Rights and Responsibilities
#4 Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
#5 Dignity of Work
#7 Care for God’s Creation (Stewardship)
In examining students’ reflections, several patterns emerge. One is that students were very emotionally invested in analyzing antiracism as it relates to various aspects of Catholic Social Teaching. Another is that students were collectively able to capture both the theoretical and applied nature of many of these ideas (for example, praying for people in various countries AND having family in New York and Mexico).
Given the murder of George Floyd and handfuls of events that brought racism forefront of American public consciousness during COVID, I am very grateful that my students are so passionate about antiracism on an individual and social level. May the Holy spirit continue to guide their responses and strengthen them as spiritually emancipated people of faith. May we gently but prophetically navigate the many challenges that productive changes will require.