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Catholic Social Teaching

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1 Catholic Social Teaching
Section 3: Respecting Human Life and Dignity

2 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The Catholic social teaching about respecting life is rooted in the Fifth Commandment, “You shall not kill.” We are in a world where the “culture of life” and the “culture of death” have become combatting forces within our own country. When countries lean toward the culture of death, the first victims are the unborn, the infirm, and the elderly. We are called to embrace a culture of life.

3 Part 1: Defending Human Life
In 1995, Pope John Paul II wrote the encyclical, The Gospel of Life, which addressed social movements toward abortion and euthanasia, that were being legalized at the time around the world. Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy by killing the unborn child. Euthanasia is a direct action, or deliberate lack of action, that causes the death of a person who is handicapped, sick, or dying.

4 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Death takes on many forms around the world, from poverty, homelessness, disease, and violence to deliberate acts of killing by way of abortion and euthanasia (as if there were not enough ways to die in our world as it is). The Pope called people to form a Culture of Life, or a society that holds all life sacred, from conception to natural death. A culture of life protects human life and dignity in all its stages, in both health and illness.

5 Part 1: Defending Human Life
A Culture of Death, on the other hand, is a society that does not hold life to be sacred in all it stages, leading to structures of sin that attack human life when it is most vulnerable. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical, identified two causes of the culture of death: Many modern people embrace a distorted understanding of human freedom Materialism

6 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Many people believe we have the right to pursue our own personal goals, no matter what it takes, even if it means removing whatever obstacles lie ahead, even if it is another person’s life. This is a FALSE conception. Freedom is not an absolute right; it is a gift, and as such it comes with the responsibilities to choose right over wrong, love over hate, solidarity over selfishness, and life over death. “Freedom isn’t free.”

7 Part 1: Defending Human Life
People who properly exercise their freedom would never cause harm to another person in pursuit of their own desires. The second cause of a culture of death is materialism, which comes from when God is not placed at the center of our lives, but rather objects become the primary goal of our life. When we focus on material things, we become selfish, not wanting to sacrifice or suffer a little, even if it means making someone else’s life a little better.

8 Part 1: Defending Human Life
What is particularly disturbing about the culture of death is the erosion of personal conscience, or the inner voice that guides us by human reason and Divine Law to choose what is morally right or what is morally wrong. The fact that people can go and end a new life, or a life that is vulnerable, without a care in the world is scary and sad; we are horrified when we see national tragedies like what happened in Newton, CT, yet are not horrified at the amount of life lost daily to abortion and euthanasia.

9 Part 1: Defending Human Life
In 1973, Roe v. Wade came before the Supreme Court, in which it was ruled that states could not limit a woman’s right to have an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. Before this decision, a majority of U.S. citizens felt abortion was wrong; leadership had an erosion of conscience about the human dignity of a embryo and fetus, which trickled down to the U.S. citizens.

10 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Once abortion became legal, a structure of sin was formed in which people all over debated if a fetus actually had human rights, or if it was even a human being. On top of that, as an erosion of conscience occurred, other people began to ask if it was okay to end the lives of unwanted or inconvenient people since it was now legal to end the life of an unborn child. The erosion of conscience is an important contributor to the culture of death.

11 Part 1: Defending Human Life
We are called to have a well formed conscience, formulated through human reason and Divine Revelation, that has principal, is truthful, and reflects the Divine Law of God. If we do have a well formed conscience, then we would have a difficult time hearing about abortion and euthanasia and the amount of life lost due to it.

12 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Pope John Paul II says in his encyclical that when a society moves toward a culture of death, the first victims will be the weak and defenseless. Since 1973 with the Roe v. Wade ruling to 2010, it is estimated that there have been 52 million abortions in the United States. Building structures of social justice that defend all life, especially the unborn, is important since all people are made in God’s image and as such, are sacred in the eyes of God.

13 Part 1: Defending Human Life
During the first eight to ten weeks in the womb, a child is called a fetus. Abortion can take on many different forms, with the most common form of abortion being suctioning or scraping the developing child out of the womb. Other forms of abortion are lethal injections into the womb that kill the child, drugs that are taken days after conception, and contraception which prevents pregnancy or cause death in early pregnancy to the child.

14 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Direct abortion is any intentionally means to end a pregnancy and the life of a child, which goes against God’s plan for creation. The woman having the abortion and those who perform it are guilty of a serious evil and are subject to excommunication, which is the cutting off of a person from receiving any Sacraments. An indirect abortion is when a mother is ill, needs a procedure done that is not an abortion, yet inadvertently ends the life of the child.

15 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The Principle of Doubt Effect was coined by Thomas Aquinas and describes what happens when a legitimate action ends up causing something that morally should be avoided. To decide if the result (which morally should be avoided) is morally tolerable from the legitimate action, the following criteria apply: The original act is either good or morally neutral Person committing the act intends for good effects The good effect outweighs the bad effect and all possible harm is kept at a minimum, or at least tried

16 Part 1: Defending Human Life
To understand these concepts, here is an example situation: A mother is seriously ill. If a procedure is not done, she will probably die, which will also end the child’s life. The procedure is done to protect the mother’s life and the child’s life. During the procedure, an incident unforeseen occurs, causing the child to die. In this situation, the indirect abortion is morally tolerable because the procedure was not intended to end the child’s life to save the mother’s life; it was an unwanted effect that occurred during the procedure.

17 Part 1: Defending Human Life
There are numerous arguments for abortion, all of which do not hold any weight. For example, some people say an embryo or fetus is not a human being when in reality modern biology, specifically genetics, have said an embryo or fetus is a human being. There are many other facts that support the idea that from the moment of conception, a human being is formed.

18 Part 1: Defending Human Life
From the moment sperm and egg meet, the cell they form has unique DNA, different from that of all human beings that ever existed. When this cell is left to its own accord, this cell will always develop into an adult human being. The embryo has its own body; the mother’s body does provide nourishment and oxygen, but the embryo has its own, individual body. At 21 days after conception, the embryo’s heart beats; 9 weeks, it has fingerprints; 12 weeks, they sleep, exercise, and move; 18 weeks, they can feel pain.

19 Part 1: Defending Human Life
All these facts and more lead to one logical conclusion: a unique human life begins at the moment of conception. Some people say that women have a choice to do as they please with their body, hence why they should have a right to abortion; however, as mentioned before, the embryo’s body is distinct from the mother’s and has rights too. Even when fathers abandon the mother, abortion is not the answer; we, as a society, must make fathers more accountable for their actions.

20 Part 1: Defending Human Life
We, as a society, must bring an end to all laws that allow abortion and show women that abortion does not need to be the answer; adoption and support from organizations exist that make abortion not necessary, even in the most difficult situations. The Church is the voice for the voiceless when it comes to abortion, speaking out against abortion and reaching out to women who have had abortions and realize what wrong they have done to bring them back to the Church through Penance.

21 Part 1: Defending Human Life
There are other moral issues that revolve around the beginning of life outside of abortion. Artificial Means of Contraception is the ability to create new human life artificially, using such means as in vitro fertilization (fertilizing an ovum in a laboratory and planting it in a woman’s womb) , artificial insemination (artificially implanting semen in a woman’s womb), or surrogate parenting (placing a woman’s fertilized egg in another woman’s womb to grow).

22 Part 1: Defending Human Life
While these techniques mean well, they all share serious moral flaws. The dignity of sexuality requires children be created naturally, making the three means of artificial conception listed before immoral. The Church does support scientific research that will help couples who are infertile or have problems conceiving through medical treatment that will increase the chances of natural conception.

23 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Prenatal testing is another issue; this is when a test is done that tests for diseases or defects in the embryo. Prenatal testing is morally acceptable if it does not harm the embryo or fetus and if used to help the child’s state of health. If used to decide whether or not to abort a child because of disease or defect, prenatal testing is morally wrong.

24 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Genetic Engineering, also known as producing a “designer baby,” is the manipulation of an ovum’s or embryo’s genetic coding. Changing the eye color, gender, hair color, etc. through genetic engineering is morally wrong since human beings are acting as God, who alone has the ability to create the uniqueness of each of His creations. Genetic engineering used to prevent diseases, called gene treatment, is morally acceptable.

25 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Stem Cell Research has been an extreme controversial political issue. Stem Cells are unique cells that have the potential to reproduce themselves as human tissue and organs; however, one of the main sources of stem cells is fetal tissue, causing scientists to want to use aborted embryos and fetus for their work. The Church approves of stem cell research that uses adult or umbilical cord stem cells, but condemns stem cell research that uses aborted embryos and fetuses.

26 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The good intention of stem cell research to cure diseases does not justify the evil of abortion. Just because human beings have the technology to accomplish certain actions does not mean those actions are morally just. We must defend, care for, and work to heal the unborn just as we would for any born, living, human being we know or see around us now.

27 Part 1: Defending Human Life

28 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Pope John Paul II also spoke about how in developed countries, people seem to more and more seek control of their own lives in everyway, even controlling their own death. Euthanasia and suicide are just a few signs of the culture of death active in society when it comes to dealing with the sick, vulnerable, and elderly. We should remember death in this life is not the end, but the beginning of eternal life, which is what we truly should be worried about achieving.

29 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Euthanasia is most commonly known as “mercy killing,” yet in the end, the taking of any life for any reason is murder and a sin. Nothing justifies euthanasia, whether it is ending the life of a sick person or of an elderly, lonely person. However, this does not mean that the Church demands life be prolonged by extraordinary means; a when person is near natural death, a person can reject extraordinary means such as pacemakers, breathing machines, and medications that prolong life.

30 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Painkillers are also okay to use, even if they bring about a dying person’s end faster, since the painkillers is meant to alleviate suffering, not cause death. Rejecting euthanasia is not a lack of compassion for sick and dying people; rather, it is rejecting the false solution euthanasia offers in place of the morally right response to pain and suffering: to place complete trust in God right up until our natural end on Earth.

31 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The Catholic Church and Christians have done great things for sick and dying people, caring for them in hospitals and hospice homes, listening to their needs, and preparing them for the end of this life and the beginning of Eternal Life. Another moral issue concerning people’s control over death is Suicide, or the deliberate taking of one’s own life. It is God’s will that preserve our own life.

32 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The reason why people do not have the right to decide when to end their own life is because God alone is the author of all life and God alone decides when and how we die. People who commit suicide take God’s power into their own hands when things in their life seem too difficult, too stressful, and painful. Pope John Paul II said “suicide represents a rejection of God’s absolute sovereignty over life and death.”

33 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Suicide not only brings an end to life, but it also causes great harm to family, friends, and sometimes shakes a community to its core. Suicide is always wrong, but the Church does recognize that some mentally ill or unstable people take their own life due to their illness’ effects, not because they feel they cannot go on. If you know someone thinking about suicide, tell an adult, even if it means breaking confidentiality.

34 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The Church does pray for those who have committed suicide, commending them to God’s love and mercy, so even though suicide is a grave sin against God, that person may not be lost forever; through God’s mercy, Eternal Life may still be achieved.

35 Part 1: Defending Human Life

36 Part 1: Defending Human Life
Pope John Paul II said the death penalty in modern society should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent.” Public authorities should address violations of the law with punishments that allow individuals to earn back their freedoms and be rehabilitate; the death penalty should only be used for individuals when there is no other way to defend society against them. Today however, life sentences are the new norm to allow individuals to be rehabilitated and still have their human dignity intact.

37 Part 1: Defending Human Life
In reality, people who say the death penalty is found throughout the Old Testament are correct. However, God did not change His mind about the death penalty; we must recall the New Law Jesus taught to understand why the death penalty is wrong. Jesus calls His disciples to turn the other cheek, love their enemies, and continuously forgive people.

38 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The Old Law was not complete; it taught the Israelites only how to protect their community from evil and limit the punishment people could impose on each other. Jesus completed the New Law by teaching that we are to love all people and that forgiveness is much more important and satisfying than vengeance. God did not change His mind; we more fully understand His ways in the New Law now.

39 Part 1: Defending Human Life
We are to practice forgiveness and mercy, just as God gives to each one of us who sin (which is everyone). Another reason for the death penalty being in the Old Testament is that criminal justice was not as developed as it is today, i.e. criminals could not be held in jail for life, meaning to protect society harmful individuals had to be executed. The test of whether to use the death penalty is whether society has alternative ways to protect itself, not how horrible the crime is.

40 Part 1: Defending Human Life
We are called to build a culture of life, because even behind jail bars, who knows what God has planned for the life of a murder, terrorist, or any other criminal. We must give all criminals a chance to repent for their crimes, turn back to God, and reform their life. We all mess up at some point in our life, obviously some people do worse than others, but we all would like a second chance in the end; God will give that chance to us if we seek it and are truly sorry for what we did.

41 Part 1: Defending Human Life
The death penalty should be ended because God calls us to forgive others and punish them justly by way of preserving their human dignity. God is the sole author of life and decides when to call us home, hence why abortion, euthanasia, suicide, and the death penalty are all morally wrong.

42 Part 2: Promoting Peace Violent behavior is a violation against the Fifth Commandment, “You shall not kill.” Violent behavior usually begins with small actions, escalating to even greater acts of violence in retaliation. Violence is justified in certain situations, such as when defending ourselves (which is a right and obligation), but must use the minimum amount of violence necessary to protect oneself. Violence and wars are not inevitable; we are called to build up societal structures that support nonviolent resolutions to conflicts.

43 Part 2: Promoting Peace Violence is any human action that causes harm to the life or dignity of another person. Males tend to be the victim of violence more so than women, equally split between the Black and White population, and over 2/3 of murder victims are killed by someone they know (nearly ¼ by someone in their own family). Violence is not just a physical attack, like murder; it is also any psychological, social, and spiritual attack on another person.

44 Part 2: Promoting Peace Slander is ruining the reputation of another person by spreading rumors and is a violent act. Bullying is treating some abusively, either verbally or physically, or forcing someone to do something against their will through violence and threats, is another violent act. Other violent acts can be: Prohibiting someone from practicing their religion Calling a person a derogatory name Causing people to be poor because of unjust distribution of Earth’s goods

45 Part 2: Promoting Peace Violence is rooted in negative feelings and attitudes in the heart of the perpetrator, such as selfishness, insecurity, greed, envy, and anger. In the first murder, Cain killed Abel out of anger and envy toward Abel. The root cause of violence is the negative effects of that Original Sin has over our attitudes about ourselves and others. Also, when structures of sin cause people to become poor, oppressed, and discriminated against, violence is used to solve problems.

46 Part 2: Promoting Peace The Spiral of Violence is the tendency of violent acts to escalate as each party in a conflict responds to injustice or an act of violence with an even greater act of violence. Archbishop Dom Helder Camara came up with the Spiral of Violence to show how violence and injustice are related; when a person attacks someone, the victim retaliates back, making the first attacker the new victim, leading to a cycle of more harmful actions.

47 Part 2: Promoting Peace The steps of the Spiral of Violence are:
Basic Injustice Resolve conflict selfishly in pursuit of one’s own interest at the expense of someone else Violent Response The injured party uses a violent response to the selfish action Violent Counter Response The party that started the conflict is now injured and seeks to get revenge with even greater violence Escalating Violence Used to outdo and defeat each other once and for all Violence ends Temporarily, Followed by More Injustice When one side overcomes the other, the cycle begins again as fear and force are imposed on the “losing” party, a form of injustice

48 Part 2: Promoting Peace The two approaches to confronting violence according to Catholic social teaching are: Defend oneself against an attacker using the minimal amount of force or violence needed to protect oneself Nonviolence conflict resolution and nonviolent resistance to evil The Spiral of Violence teaches us that the best way to confront violence is to address the issue that lead to violence as early as possible.

49 Part 2: Promoting Peace Jesus taught that as His disciples, we are not to answer violence with violence, but rather to love our enemies and to conquer evil with good, because two wrongs never end up making something right.

50 Part 2: Promoting Peace Starting a war is an immoral act.
War is never an appropriate way to solve conflicts between people or countries, and as Pope Pius XII said, “Nothing is lost by peace; everything is lost by war.” Between forty and seventy million people died in World War II alone, showing why war should never be the goal of how to solve conflicts. Often civilians are the victims of war more so than soldiers, especially in today’s day and age where nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons exist.

51 Part 2: Promoting Peace Moral laws require all peoples and nations to do everything they can to resist war. When we are faced with war, we must either defend ourselves through force or through nonviolent resistance. Divine Law does not forbid the use of legitimate self defense against an unjust aggressor. Our love for others, including our enemies, is balanced by our love for ourselves.

52 Part 2: Promoting Peace The intrinsic value of life and the duty to love oneself no less than others are the basis of a true right to self defense. If, for example, your house is being robbed, you do not need to kill the burglar if he/she to stop them from taking your things; harming or killing someone in self defense should be a last resort. Only is “kill or be killed” situations is killing permissible in self defense.

53 Part 2: Promoting Peace Legitimate Defense is the teaching that limited violence is morally acceptable in defending yourself or your nation from an attack. Those who hold authority, such as governments and militaries, have a duty to protect innocent people against an unjust aggressor to protect the common good by rendering the aggressor unable to cause harm. Those who serve in the military are affirmed by the Church as the agents of security and freedom of people when they act properly.

54 Part 2: Promoting Peace War must be a last resort whenever there is conflict between nations. A Just War is a war that is declared by lawful authorities due to a just cause and with the right intentions (such as self defense), and weapons must be used in a way that protects the lives of innocent people. To helps states determine if a war is just, the Church has complied criteria that must be met for war to be morally permissible.

55 Part 2: Promoting Peace The following are criteria for a just war:
Just Cause The state must be using war to prevent or correct evil Comparative Justice The good achieved by war must outweigh the loss of life and disruption to society Legitimate Authority Only public authorities may wage war Probability of Success War must not be used in a futile case, or when extreme measures, such as nuclear war, are the only way to succeed Proportionality The overall destruction must be outweigh by goods achieved Last Resort War is only used after all peaceful alternatives are exhausted

56 Part 2: Promoting Peace If any of those conditions are not met, a war is considered unjust. Catholic social teaching recognizes the legitimate authorities can call citizens into military service in self defense. Some citizens feel serving in a just war fulfills a moral duty; others people take Jesus’ call to love your enemies as meaning they cannot fight in any war, even if it is just.

57 Part 2: Promoting Peace The Church asks governments to help people who feel they cannot serve in a just war because of Christ’s teachings find alternative ways to serve their nation. Conscientious Objection is the refusal to join the military or take part in a war based on religious or moral grounds. If a person serves in the military and feels a war isn't just, they should legally have the right to refuse to fight based on conscientious objection (though that is not a right in the U.S. today).

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59 Part 2: Promoting Peace After World War II, a nuclear arms race began between the United States and the Soviet Union. The policy known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was the basis for the stockpiling of weapons, which believes that having nuclear weapons deters other countries from using them on your country; if they do, their destruction is assured since the attacked country will send nuclear missiles at the attacker. Such an event could lead to a nuclear winter around the world.

60 Part 2: Promoting Peace Nuclear missiles have only been used two times (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), yet the money spent on the missiles to make is a social injustice since that money could be used to address the needs of society, such as hunger and homelessness. Due to public outcry, the United States, Russia, and other countries have signed arms reduction agreements; Russia and the United States have gone from having 12,000 nuclear missiles each in the 1970’s to around 2,200 each today.

61 Part 2: Promoting Peace Such agreements show that structures of sin, such as stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, can be converted and changed through peaceful protest and means. One structure of sin that continues to support modern warfare is called an Arms Race, or an escalating competition to accumulate ever great numbers of weapons and to develop ever more effective and destructive weapons for armed conflict.

62 Part 2: Promoting Peace Those who support arms races say it ensures peace by making sure nations have the best weapons and forces to defend themselves. However, this notion of ensuring peace with weapons is challenged since arms races lead to the creation of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Ancient biological weapons were used to spread the plague, disease, and other deadly microbes to sicken and kill enemies.

63 Part 2: Promoting Peace The first modern weapons of mass destruction were used in World War I in the form of chemical weapons, such as mustard and nerve gas. The newest weapons of mass destruction are nuclear weapons, which killed around 110 million people total INSTANTLY during World War II. Weapons of mass destruction do not meet the criteria for use in a just war and this are morally wrong, but the arms race promotes the creation of such weapons still.

64 Part 2: Promoting Peace Another reason why the arms race is a major moral problem is because it diverts close to a trillion dollars annually around the world to the military instead of some of that money helping the poor and needed. The arms race not only has potential to kill millions of people, most citizens, in moments by their use, but also can lead to the death of millions of other poor and needy people who are not being cared for because money is being allocated to weapons.

65 Part 2: Promoting Peace Another structure of sin connected with the arms race is the Arms Trade, or the sale of arms and weapons within and between countries. The major driving force behind the arms trade is profit, since sellers will send weapons to the highest bidder and even to both sides of a conflict without a care in the world. States have a moral responsibility to regulate the arms trade to ensure peace in society.

66 Part 2: Promoting Peace

67 Part 2: Promoting Peace The Church, in Christ, is a “sacrament” or sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world. As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers; otherwise, if we do not, we are guilt of the sin of Scandal, or an attitude, action, or lack of action, that leads another person to sin. War, even a just war, is never the permanent solution to conflict; the lasting solution is building peaceful and just societies rooted in forgiveness, justice, and love.

68 Part 2: Promoting Peace In waging peace, we are called to keep three principles in mind: The saving work of Jesus Christ ushers in God’s Kingdom of peace. Through Christ’s death, we are not bound to repeat the spiral of violence forever. Peace is a divine gift, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, given to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. Participating in Christ’s Church means finding peace in a violent world; “I leave you peace, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you..” Peace is more than just the absence of violence. The Hebrew word “Shalom” is a greeting used to not only wish people peace, but also a just, loving relationship with God; peace is built on such loving relationships with others.

69 Part 2: Promoting Peace Since we are called to be peacemakers, we should not wait until violence and war break out to make peace; we should be building peaceful societies at all times. There are many different ways we can build peace in our world today. Correcting injustices allows for peace to be built up since injustice usually leads to violence, i.e. keeping the poor and homeless as they are without helping them so the rich can lead luxury lifestyles; fixing injustices prevents violence.

70 Part 2: Promoting Peace Working for solidarity is an essential ingredient for peace; if we cross boundaries, cultures, and man made barriers between people, we become one family and friends, creating more peace than violence. Supporting economic development helps poorer countries avoid war since sometimes wars occur over resources in poor countries for water and food; helping poor countries grow economically helps prevent war.

71 Part 2: Promoting Peace Promoting forgiveness and reconciliation is essential to peace since forgetting past transgressions does not create peace; Japan was once our enemy in World War II but today is one of our closest allies; seeking forgiveness is essential to peace. Apartheid, in South Africa, was the segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-whites. People who took part in the apartheid and acted unjustly were allowed to ask for forgiveness in an open forum to help promote peace.

72 Part 2: Promoting Peace Making time for prayer is one of the most powerful peacemaker practices. If we align our prayers and wants with God’s will, we will find the answer to our society’s problem is not fighting back with violence, but searching for a lasting peace between all people.

73 Part 2: Promoting Peace We are called to respond to violence and hatred with love. A way to end the spiral of violence is not just by avoiding answering violence with violence, but also transforming our relationship with our enemies from hatred into love. When we love our enemies, even if they do not love us back, we are opening them up to the love of God and His graces.

74 Part 2: Promoting Peace In America, loving one’s enemies is countercultural since some people think violence solves violence and to love is to show weakness; this, however, is not true. To love one’s enemies means to call upon the strength of God, a strength that no violence can overcome when people place their trust in God and not in themselves. Christian martyrs died for their faith in God and love of their enemies, even their killers; in many instances, people were converted when they saw the love the martyrs practiced.

75 Part 2: Promoting Peace Love of our enemies requires more strength than the strength needed to harm our enemies. Some Christians resist violence altogether, even violence used in self defense, accepting death if that’s what resisting violence means. Usually, such Christians will not fight in war, even a just war, due to the idea of Nonviolent Resistance, which means to confront injustice and violence with love, using only nonviolent strategies in working for justice and peace.

76 Part 2: Promoting Peace Whether a person chooses to use legitimate defense or complete commitment to nonviolence, both seek to serve the common good and establish peace in our world. Being committed to nonviolence does not mean accepting violence in our world, but it is taking a different approach to establishing peace through total love. Not all people are called to be committed to nonviolence; however, those who are become examples that violence does not solve violence, but rather love is the answer to ending violence.

77 Part 2: Promoting Peace

78 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Every human being has the same sacred dignity, regardless of age, sex, race, culture, beliefs, appearance, ability, etc. We reflect God’s image through our maleness/femaleness; God’s likeness through our ethnicities. However, human beings have become suspicious of cultures and people different from themselves, leading to racism, segregation, war, and sexism (structures of sin).

79 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
There is no fundamental difference between human beings besides our sexuality, that of male and female. Male and females are equal in dignity, yet unique physically, emotional, and spiritually, making men and women complementary creatures to one another. When used immorally, however, sexuality has great power to harm people, both the people who do the exploiting, the exploited, and their respective friends and families.

80 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
God created the two sexes to be the foundation for the human community, to be in relationship with one another and reproduce. However, relationships are not all about reproducing; it is also about giving and receiving love, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit give love and are in communion with one another. Sexuality finds its most complete fulfillment in marriage or in the practice of celibacy for priests.

81 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Chastity, or the virtue by which a person is successful in integrating their sexuality into their entire person successfully, helps us live out our sexuality with integrity. A chaste person’s actions and words reflect God’s purpose for sexuality, i.e. a person won’t dress provocative to tempt other people sexually since sex is for a man and woman. Other sins against chastity are masturbation, fornication, lust, pornography, and homosexual activity.

82 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Masturbation is the self manipulation of one’s sexual organs for the purpose of pleasure outside of sex and marriage. Fornication is the act of sex between a man and a woman who are not married. Lust is the intense and uncontrolled desire for sexual pleasure. Pornography is a written description or visual portrayal of a person or action viewed to stimulate sexual feelings.

83 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Our sexuality is both a reflection of the Divine Trinity’s communion since men and women are to be in union together as the Trinity is, as well as a share in God’s life giving power. Both these meanings of sex are fully realized in marriage, when a man and woman make a lifetime commitment to one another, in good times and bad, with the purpose to love one another and bring new life into the world. Adultery, divorce, and polygamy go against the dignity of marriage.

84 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Adultery is marital infidelity, or when two people (at least one is married) have sex with each other, yet are not married to one another. Polygamy is having more than one spouse. When sexuality is properly respected between a married man and woman, it is then that society can be fully appreciated and achieve its purpose (for priests and nuns, in celibacy, sexuality is also fully appreciated, just in a different way than married people).

85 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
However, structures of sin exist that exploit sexuality, including: Prostitution Pornography industry Sexual slavery Sex as a marketing tool Prostitution is the illegal act of providing sexual services in return for money or other goods. Some people are forced into prostitution, others do it willingly, yet prostitutes are demeaned, abused, manipulated, exposed to disease, and are deprived of their human dignity.

86 Part 3: Protecting Dignity in Diversity
Sexual slave trade, also known as sex trafficking, involves forcing men, women, and children to work as prostitutes and in other jobs in the sex industry. Such victims usually are vulnerable in different ways, i.e. runaways, homeless, poor, and drug addicts. Pornography is the selling of images, writings, and videos in which people are treated as objects of pleasure, promoting a distorted view on sexuality.

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The media uses sexuality to sell different items, from body wash to clothing, by focusing on sexual body parts. This form of advertising causes men and women to be self conscience about their bodies, making people worry about the way they look instead of who they are as a person. We work for justice against these structures of sin by first not participating in these sins, and then advocating for their control and eventual elimination.

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The structures of sin revolving around sex are based in greed since millions upon millions of dollars are spent around the world on such services and items. Sexual exploitation has become one of the gravest structures of sin in our time and we are called to help those stuck in the abuse of such a terrible societal structure.

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Racism is treating people of a different race without the full respect their equal dignity requires. Throughout human history, war, slavery, and distrust has existed between different races of people with the prejudice lasting for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In America, Africans were brought from their homes thousands of miles away by force to be slaves on plantations in the 1700’s.

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During the years of immigration to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Irish, Italians, and other Europeans were treated as second class citizens by those who were already living in America. Over the past 150 years, racism has been challenged and abolished in the United States, yet this does not mean racism is eradicated unfortunately. African Americans and Latinos are today looked down upon by society in certain poor and overcrowded cities, being treated unfairly for no reason other than structures of sin based on racism still present in society.

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A hundred years ago, race was thought to be defined by skin color, hair type, and body proportions; however, genetic DNA testing has found that there are few, if any, differences between races. Race can be said to be a societal construct, grouping people of a similar background; however, this is a problem too since many cultures can be generalized into one “race,” i.e. Hispanics can be Puerto Rican, Chilean, Mexican, etc.

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As a working definition then, we can define Race as a group of people defined by physical characteristics and/ or a common cultural background. A Racist is a person who discriminates against people based on race. We are not born with racist attitudes, we unfortunately learn them. Racism is a sin individuals commit, but has been perpetuated by societal structures of sin.

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We learn racist attitudes by way of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. We treat people the way we view them, usually based on assumptions that are founded in racial stereotypes. A Stereotype is a commonly held belief about what a race of people believes or how they act. The problem with stereotypes is that they are often inaccurate, and if accurate, they do not reflect the entire race; stereotypes do not respect the uniqueness of people.

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Prejudice is a display of ignorance, fear, or hostility toward a racial group based on preconceived judgments, judgments that are made without all the facts (or no facts at all). Prejudice becomes discrimination when people in power deny members of a particular race the ability to participate in society. Discrimination is often manifested in segregation laws. African Americans were discriminated against in the United States by first taking away their basic human rights and enslaving them, then denying them the right to vote, and then discriminating against them in the job market.

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In 1979, the United States Catholic bishops released the document called “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” speaking out against the horrors of racism. “Racism is a sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races.” Jesus’ death restored humanity as one family, which was symbolically lost at the Tower of Babel when God made people speak different tongues.

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Racism is a social “weapon of mass destruction.” We are called to fight racism in society since it divides, rather than unifies, all people who may look different and come from differing backgrounds, yet are still part of one large family: the human race.

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Immigration is the movement of a person or group of people to a new country, usually to take up a permanent residence. The opposite of immigration is Emigration, or the movement of people out of a country. Immigration has become a hot political and emotional issue in the United States; some people say that immigrants are bad because they take away jobs from native born citizens, while others say immigrants are good because they take jobs native born citizens don’t want to do.

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For these reasons, it is difficult to have a conversation about immigration that is based on the Gospel values and on reason. The Church has spoken about Migration, or the movement of a person or group of people from one place to another (usually without permanent residence), with reason and clarity in numerous documents. It is difficult to determine the difference between migration and immigration, because sometimes people migrate with the intention of returning home one day, yet never do…so are they migrants or immigrants? The terms are used interchangeably for this reason.

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Migration and immigration have been an integral part of salvation history, including Abraham and Sarah leaving their homeland to a land God brought them to, Jacob and his children migrating to Egypt to escape famine, and the Israelites escaping Egyptian slavery by the hand of God. Many Israelites became migrants and refugees after the Jewish Diaspora, or the movement of a people away from an established homeland, after the fall of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

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Mary and Joseph, along with the child Jesus, migrated to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod, who was killing all male firstborn children throughout his kingdom due to the prophecy of a king, who was Christ. The family was migrants until King Herod’s death, returning back home only then. Christ calls us to care for the foreigner by “making disciples of all nations,” making all people of all races into a singular family of God.

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The Church recognizes migration and immigration as basic human rights, especially in situations of violence and injustice. On the other hand, to eliminate the need of migration in such situations, the Church calls for an end to the root causes of migration: Poverty Injustice Lack of Religious Freedom War

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Pope John Paul II said the solution to illegal immigration is the elimination of global poverty and injustice. The U.S. and Mexican Catholic bishops wrote the letter, “Strangers No Longer,” in which five social justice principles were outlined that addressed the Catholic perspective on immigration and migration: People have the right to find opportunities in their homeland People have the right to migrate to support their families Sovereign nations have a right to control their borders Refugees and asylum seekers should be given protection The human rights and dignity of undocumented workers should be respected

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People should never be forced to leave their home, but usually have to because of lack of jobs, food, and persecution. If nation’s protected their citizens’ basic rights, then illegal immigration would be on the decline. When goods are not shared within a nation either, people have the right to move their families and themselves to another place where they can build a dignified life.

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The right to migrate, however, is not an absolute right; if migrants are not coming to another nation for the rights reasons, i.e. due to injustice or basic needs, then they can be excluded as migrants. However, rich nations are called to welcome migrants who are escaping desperate, life threatening situations. Compassion calls for nations to protect refugees, or a person who seeks protection in another country due to war, natural disaster, or persecution in their home land, until the threat no longer exists.

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Governments are reminded that all people, citizens or undocumented workers, have human dignity that must be respected. Usually illegal immigrants migrate so as to pursue the noble goal of building a better life for themselves and their family. Governments are asked not to pass laws that punish or lead to abuse of undocumented workers who are trying to obtain their human rights all people deserve.

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