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Rediscovering the Common Good
Rediscovering the Common Good

A Concern for the Good of the World

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Rediscovering the Common Good

A Concern for the Good of the World
Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Fr. Richard and the Center’s commitment to the common good is deeply rooted in both the Scriptures and the Catholic Church’s social teaching and doctrine. Authors Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley offer this brief outline:

The Catholic vision of the common good is as clear as it is challenging. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which the Vatican released in 2004, notes that the specific “demands” of the common good are deeply connected to the fundamental dignity and rights of the human person:

These demands concern above all the commitment to peace, the organization of the State’s powers, a sound juridical system, the protection of the environment, and the provision of essential services to all, some of which are at the same time human rights: food, housing, work, education and access to culture, transportation, basic health care, the freedom of communication and expression, and the protection of religious freedom. [1]

A robust commitment to the common good dates to the very beginnings of our faith and is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments. The Hebrew scriptures call readers to look beyond their own self interest to create a just and healthy community; and the Gospels teach us to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. [Richard: The so-called vertical line toward God must be embodied by a horizontal line toward everything else.]

The common good also requires a concern for the entire world community. . . . In 1963, Pope John XXIII introduced the phrase “universal common good” [2] in the Catholic social tradition in recognition of the duty to promote the good of our neighbors around the globe as well as at home. [3]

Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry speaks of the specific challenges facing us today and how prayer is needed:

In the United States and in the world, we have different cultures, different politics, different experiences that have shaped our beliefs. But if we can establish that we’re working toward some common good, whether we like each other or not, then we can be brothers and sisters. . . . Let’s all stop worrying about whether we like each other and choose to believe instead that we’re capable of doing good together. . . .

If love is your purpose . . . it was and still is the time to double down on prayer. Because prayer, real prayer, is both contemplative and active. . . . Part of that is working for a good, just, humane, and loving society. That means getting on our knees [to pray] . . . and it also means standing on our feet and marching in the streets. It means praying through participation in the life of our government and society. . . . Through fashioning a civic order that reflects goodness, justice, and compassion, and the very heart and dream of God for all of God’s children and God’s creation. [4]

[1] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana: 2004), 94.

[2] Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), encyclical, April 11, 1963.

[3] Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley, A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division (Jossey-Bass: 2008), 4–5.

[4] Michael Curry with Sara Grace, Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (Avery: 2020), 205, 206.

Story from Our Community:
I was brought up a good Catholic and believed what I had been taught—that I loved God and that God hated me. I can’t even remember how many times a nun or priest told me that I was going straight to hell. They also never spoke about how one priest’s sexual molestation of me fit with God’s plan. My wife introduced me to Methodism and I learned that God was with me and that I was a part of him. Reading Richard Rohr’s meditations makes my heart and spirit sing because he speaks so eloquently to this belief. —David D.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team.

Image credit: Rose B. Simpson, River Girls in situ (detail), 2019, sculpture. Photo by Kate Russell. Used with permission.
We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.
Image Inspiration: This is a piece that was specifically about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It was about empowerment and companionship and the moment of heartbreak and how do we find strength to create a new reality. I called them River Girls because there was a young girl from my tribe that was found in the river real close to my studio as I was making these. I made these pieces and every bead on their arms was a prayer, every day that I worked in the clay was a prayer for strength and for protection and for clarity… —Rose B. Simpson, from CONSPIRE Interview, 2021
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