What we do
Social Justice and Ecology Ministries

It seems odd to refer only to a particular group of works as "social ministries." All ministries are "social" - that is, relational. They are about righting our relationships with God, with all others, and with all creation.

However, since the closing years of the 19th century, when Pope Leo XIII launched his fiery encyclical Rerum Novarum ("On the Condition of the Working Classes"), papal and other ecclesial statements that challenge distortions in society are often referred to as "social doctrine," or "the social teaching of the Church." When Christians, including Jesuits, organize to take action on problems that are hurting people in everyday society, their works are often called "social ministries."

Pope Leo's example bore fruit all during the 20th century, and the tradition it started is still producing new ideas, official teaching and courageous action. Pope Benedict has made this stream of papal teaching his own in his major encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

Jesuits at all levels have supported the growth in social awareness that is rooted in the Gospel. In 1974, at their 32nd General Congregation, Jesuits affirmed that their service of faith cannot be separated from action for justice in the world. This conviction has consequences: since that time, more than 50 Jesuits have been murdered in their service of the poor.

Awareness of the justice we owe to the earth itself has grown more recently. Ecological wisdom is inseparable from long-term caring for human well-being. In 2008, the 35th General Congregation declared that the mission of Jesuits is to work for right relationships with God, with all people, (especially the most vulnerable), and with creation as a precious gift from God.

St. Ignatius always sought to discover and experience God active in all of creation, as well as in the human drama. Discerning how to share in God's unceasing work to heal wounds and set relationships right is the inspired path for social ministry.




The Crusader

OpenSpace (Apr 2018)

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