ON the adjoining page Sir Roy Shaw rounds off our series on the Catholic church's social teaching — often referred to as its "best kept secret". We hope that in the seven articles that have made up the series a new and urgent dimension to the church's concern for human kind has been highlighted.
As Sir Roy states plainly in his piece we must not let our interest in the subject remain at a theoretical and theological level. In an age when our society is more divided and polarised that at any time in recent memory, and when our world is littered with tyrants and oppressive regimes and torn apart by the unequal distribution of wealth between the affluent north and the underdeveloped south, the church's teaching clearly demands that we act.
Different approaches, based on recent and not so recent papal pronouncements and encyclicals, have been outlined in the past seven weeks — Fr Sean McDonagh on how we might take action on the environmental degradation of our world; Mildred Nevile on approaches to development; Bruce Kent on peace; John Battle MP on poverty; Ian Linden on human rights; and Brian Davies' general introduction to the subject. All these writers are experts in their fields — Fr McDonagh's new book and Mr Davies' forthcoming one develop in more detail the arguments they advanced in their articles.
At a parish and community level, there is surely a case for these seven articles to be the basis of a group reflection on what we are doing as Christians to follow up this vital area of the church's teaching. Read in conjunction with the gospels and with the relevant documents, they could prove an inspiration to practical action for a parish based group. If you missed any of the articles please write to the Catholic Herald at the address at the top of this column, marking your envelope "Teaching in action" and we will send you copies of the seven articles. A charge of £2.45 per set will cover the materials with post and packing free.
We have a duty as Christians, as Pope Paul VI pointed out in his Call to Action, to (I) be attentive to the signs of the times (2) analyse the situation in one's own country and circumstances (3) make that analysis in the light of the gospel and the social teaching of the church and (4) take responsibility for specific decisions and effectively implement them.