By Mary DeTurris Poust
Tracing the roots and development of Catholic social teaching from the Old Testament to the present, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan laid out six "pillars" of Catholic social justice for Catholic New Yorkers attending the annual statewide Public Policy Day in Albany today:
1. God comes first. "His ways, His law have dominion."
2. The innate dignity of every individual human person. Every man and woman is made in the image and likeness of God and has an "eternal destiny" and a "divine character."
3. The common good is always normative. "We are never in it just for myself but for ourselves."
4. Solidarity. "We are members of a family, and we have a special duty to the poor among us."
5. Subsidiarity. "One of the geniuses of Catholic social teaching is the closer you are to the grassroots, the better you are."
6. Supreme duty to bring values, God's truth and our principles into the public square. There can be no "cleavage" between what we believe and how we act.
The archbishop made his comments during a workshop at the event sponsored by the New York State Catholic Conference. Some 1,200 Catholics converged on the state capital today to meet with legislators, participate in workshops on specific issues and attend a Mass with all the bishops of the state. A number of key legislative issues were on the agenda: abortion legislation that threatens to make abortion a "fundamental right" in New York; cuts to the Maternity and Early Childhood Development Foundation, a program that helps young mothers in crisis pregnancies; Catholic education and $243 million the state owes Catholic schools for mandated services; and cuts to service programs that could devastate the poor in particular, especially immigrants and those recently incarcerated.
"We are never going to give up on that prophetic role of speaking up for the poor and for those who don't have a voice," Archbishop Dolan said during a press conference. Later, during his homily at the Mass, he recalled the motto of Pope John Paul II, Totus Tuus, "All yours," and said that Catholics must "hold nothing back" in service to God and His people.
"When there are those who say that people of faith, people of religion, people of the Church, should mind their own business. We say, 'Politics is our business,'" he said to applause. "...When people say morality and religion and faith and ethics don't go with politics, we say, 'They go together as naturally as a hot dog and a bun.'"