National Catholic Register


A Peace and Justice Examination of Conscience

BY Jim Cosgrove

March 28 - April 3, 1999 Issue | Posted 3/28/99 at 1:00 PM



In their national meeting last November, the U.S. bishops addressed the topic of the role of the Christ's faithful in their document, Everyday Christianity: To Hunger and Thirst for Justice: Following are excerpts:

Social justice and the common good are built up or torn down day by day in the countless decisions and choices we make. This vocation to pursue justice is not simply an individual task — it is a call to work with others to humanize and shape the institutions that touch so many people. The lay vocation for justice cannot be carried forward alone, but only as members of a community called to be the “leaven” of the Gospel …

The Family

We demonstrate our commitment to the Gospel by how we spend our time and money, and whether our family life includes an ethic of charity, service and action for justice. The lessons we teach our children through what we do as well as what we say determines whether they care for the “least among us” and are committed to work for justice. …

The Workplace

Workers are called to pursue justice. In the Catholic tradition, work is not a burden, not just how we make a living … Decisions made at work can make important contributions to an ethic of justice.

Corporate Environments

Owners, managers, and investors [can] seek justice and pursue peace. Ethical responsibility is not just avoiding evil, but doing right, especially for the weak and vulnerable. Decisions about the use of capital have moral implications: Are they creating and preserving quality jobs at living wages? Are they building up community through the goods and services they provide? Do policies and decisions reflect respect for human life and dignity, promote peace and preserve God's creation? …

The Marketplace

As consumers, believers can promote social justice or injustice. In an affluent culture that suggests that what we have defines who we are, we can live more simply. When we purchase goods and services, we can choose to support companies that defend human life, treat workers fairly, protect creation, and respect other basic moral values at home and abroad. We can also make conscious efforts to consume less. …


As citizens in the world's leading democracy, Catholics in the United States have special responsibilities to protect human life and dignity and to stand with those who are poor and vulnerable. We are also called to welcome the stranger, to combat discrimination, to pursue peace, and to promote the common good. Catholic social teaching calls us to practice civic virtues and offers us principles to shape participation in public life. …

Salt and Light

The Word of God calls believers to become “the salt of the earth, the light of the world.” The Pope and the bishops are called to teach and lead, but unless the Church's social teaching finds a home in the hearts and lives of Catholic women and men, our community and culture will fall short of what the Gospel requires. Our society urgently needs the everyday witness of Christians who take the social demands of our faith seriously. …

As the Third Christian Millennium approaches, the call to live our faith in everyday choices and actions remains at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This call takes on renewed urgency as we approach the Great Jubilee, but it is not new. The task of disciples today was probably best and most simply expressed in the words of the prophet Micah: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)