- The Meaning of the Term. CST or the Church’s Social Teaching was not initially an organic system but was formed over the course of time by the Magisterium’s response to social issues, inspired by biblical revelation and Church tradition – or the teachings of early Christian philosophers known as the Church Fathers.
From this twin source, CST drew strength and light to understand, judge and guide human experience and history – including today’s Philippines.
In our times CST has come to mean the compendium of social teachings from Popes Leo XIII to Pius XI and Pius XII, from John XXIII through the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council to various consequent Synods, from Paul VI and John Paul II to the condominium papacy of Benedict XVI and incumbent Pope Francis.
Various Bishops’ Conferences have taken off from these teachings, including our own CWO and its successor CBCP, as have other faiths and denominations, states and governments and the very United Nations itself, particularly in the latter’s promulgation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights and continuing discussions on the issues raised by Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris and Populorum Progressio.
- Traditionally the focal center of CST is the dignity of the human person and the social nature of human nature situating this focus in the broader plan of the Creator for the life and destiny of people all of whom are called to share in divine communion or koinonia. It is a communion marked by a radical equality and solidarity among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class, where there is no preferential regard for either Jew or Greek or any other nationality, slave or free or any other class in society, male or female or any other gender identification; for all of creation are one in communion with the Creator, and therefore each one is a koinonos (Gr) or socius (La) – or in Pilipino “kasama’t kapatid.”
- Obviously, then, CST is faith-based enunciated by those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. Be that as it may, CST has also been always in sync with other humanist and faith-based traditions and together have brought about a great movement of peoples and nations for the defense of the human person and the safeguarding of human dignity.
History has seen this movement affirming freedom, justice and peace against all forms of tyranny, including savage capitalism and totalitarian communism – two systems of ideas, practices and institutions deemed and experienced as cruel to human life and degrading of the human condition.
We as a people through our own present Constitution and our continuing struggles have made clear to ourselves and to the world that we strive to be part of this great movement of humanity.
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law, and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace, ordained and promulgated our present Constitution.
- Going back immediately to the present, the incumbent Pontiff Pope Francis has incessantly targeted the ever-growing gap between the few rich and the many poor as the root cause of all present socio-economic and political problems, identifying laissez-faire capitalism as the real culprit. Mincing no words, he has called such a political economy of exclusion the modern equivalent of mass murder. At the same time, he has identified the real solution as political in nature – the assertion of power by the people or the majority populace – in other words, the practice of truly democratic politics. He does not want people to be fooled by liberal democracy which has often been a mask for oligopoly but would rather have the people awakened to their own power in the exercise of authentic social democracy of either Christian, Islamic, Buddhist or any other humanist tradition.
And so, he has urged the active laity to help the basic sectors and subsectors of the majority populace in the process of self-education and self-organization into interest groups and political parties, doing away with the elitist politics of money and the modern market methods of lies and deception – for only the truth is the effective way to freedom. People’s groups of this nature, popular movements, as they are sometimes called, Francis has identified as true “torrents of moral energy” that can transform societies and nations. So, in the Philippines today, are we going to embrace people politics and people power or the power of money and modern big data technological manipulations?