Fr. Thomas Williams on the application of Catholic Social teaching

In an October 2003 talk on foundations of Catholic social doctrine, Father Thomas Williams, Theology Dean at Regina Apostolorum, closed with the following practical guidelines regarding the application of Catholic social teaching:

  1. Education — Read and have good, precise knowledge of the Church’s social teachings, to be able to expound them with assurance and clarity, and make sure that what we teach in the name of the Church is effectively what the Church teaches, and not our own personal opinions.
  2. Humility – so as not to have to jump from general principles to definitive concrete judgments, especially when expressed in a categorical and absolute manner. We should not go beyond the limitations of our own knowledge and specific competence.
  3. Realism – Realism in assessing the human condition, acknowledging sin but leaving room for the action of God’s grace. In the midst of our commitment to human development, never lose sight that man’s vocation is above all to be a saint and enjoy God for eternity.
  4. Caution – [So as to] avoid the temptation of using the Church’s social doctrine as a weapon for judging “others” (entrepreneurs, politicians, multinational companies, etc.). We should instead concentrate first on our own lives and our personal, social, economic and political responsibilities.
  5. Cooperation – Know how to closely cooperate with lay people, forming them and sending them out as evangelizers of the world. They are the true experts in their fields of competence and have the specific vocation of transforming temporal realities according to the Gospel.

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