Social crisis and the role of Christians

"The Church, at the service of the poor", is the title of a document by the bishops that analyses the national reality and formulates proposals for the good of the Country

“Concerns for the suffering caused by the serious economic, social and moral crisis involving the Spanish society” and the “hope based on the testimony offered by many members of the Church is supporting those who suffered the consequences of the crisis” are two major principles inspiring “Iglesia, servidora de los pobres” (“The Church, at the service of the poor”), the pastoral instruction approved by Spanish bishops during their recent plenary meeting. These are two aspects that the bishops want to share “with the faithful and with all those who wish to listen to their voice”. The new poor. Structured in four parts, the pastoral instruction starts with an analysis of the “current social situation and its underlying factors”. In the first part, dedicated to describing the current situation, the bishops focus on the “new poor” and the “new poverties”, notably those suffered by families hit by the crisis. In them, it is pointed out “it’s not hard to find many young people without a job, who seriously run the risk of being victims of “desperate situations”. In addition to economic and social problems, the bishops highlighted “the poverty that originates in migration”. In fact, migrants are the most direly hit by a crisis to which they didn’t contribute. From this perspective the bishops call upon national and EU authorities to adopt “generous reception and cooperation with the Countries of origin”. In addition to the new poverties, the pastoral instruction points its finger against corruption as a distinctive trait of contemporary societies, described as a “moral evil” caused by “financial greed” and “individual avarice”. Not only, these situations of corruption cause social alarm, alter economic performance, prevent fair competition and raise the cost of services. For the bishops, the much needed personal and social regeneration will be possible through “greater consideration for the common good”, that originates in moral and social virtues and becomes visible in the love for others. However, both the new poverties and corruption are favoured by spiritual impoverishment. The personal and moral behaviours are damaged by religious indifference, by forgetting God and by the grave disregard of the transcendent destiny of the human person. We should not forget, the bishops point out, “man’s personality is enriched with the recognition of God that supports the ethical dimension, brings to love every person, making fraternal charity its distinctive trait”. The current situation. The second part of the document highlights four factors underlying the current social situation. The first is the denial of the primacy of the human being, based on the dignity granted by God. The second is the dominance of immediacy and of technology in current culture. The social model cantered on the economy is the third factor that explains this crisis situation, the real estate bubble, excessive indebtedness, the lack of regulation and market supervision has caused a period of recession, whereby the only solution is the logic of growth, as if “more” was equal to “better”. Fourth, a consequence of the logic of growth is a certain degree of market idolatry, when in reality, economic activity per se cannot solve all social problems. Its righteous goal for the common good is a primary task of the political realm – the bishops point out – which should not elude their responsibilities. Thus the bishops urge to deepen the evangelical dimension of charity and face the challenge of an inclusive economy of communion. Eight proposals. In the third part the bishops list the principle of Church social doctrine that enlighten reality. Such principles include “the dignity of the human person”, the “social dimension and the universal dimension” of goods, “solidarity and balance between rights and duties”, “subsidiarity”, the “common good”. In the fourth part the prelate offer eight proposals starting with faith: “To promote an attitude of renewal and conversion that identifies us with Christ and that goes towards the poor”; to “cultivate a form of spirituality that promotes social engagement”, to “support oneself with the transforming force of evangelization”; to “deepen the evangelizing dimension of charity and social action starting with personal testimony”; “to promote the integral development of the human person and face the root causes of poverty”; to “defend life and the family and fundamental social goods”; to “address the challenge of an inclusive economy based on communion”; to “strengthen community animation”.

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