1. The Church offers her social doctrine. This doctrine is from the whole Church. But when it comes to direct social action the competence of the Church is in offering a moral orientation and not a technical program for society. This does not, however, mean that all Church members will just focus on moral guiding of society. The laity is given the charge to act hands-on in social issues. They can, for example, engage in partisan politics. Priests and religious people do not engage in partisan politics.
2. Human dignity is based on the fact that the human is made in the image of God. Human dignity also implies that the human is so valued by God and proven in the Incarnation of Christ. Human dignity is also based on the fact that the human has been redeemed by and in Christ. To emphasize our dignity, the Social Doctrine of the Church points to our transcendent vocation. We are not just destined for a good and wonderful social life but to a life of communion with God.
3. Human dignity is non-discriminatory. Each human person in any life circumstance and in any social status is a person of dignity. This also means that we are all brothers and sisters to each other, all sharing the same dignity.
4. The way by which we are related to the material environment is proof that we are not just material creatures. Yes, we are physical but we are not exclusively physical. Hence we cannot treat each other as mere material objects. The human cannot be reduced to a thing. The Incarnation of Christ can guide us in understanding this.
5. We are also social beings. We live with others; we bloom with others. The human in society is “end” and not “means”. Thus we cannot reduce the human to ideological ends. The human is not just a cell in an organization. The Trinitarian community of God can help us understand this.
6. Human rights are universal. All humans have human rights. Human rights are grounded on human dignity. Human rights are inviolable. Human rights are inalienable. Human rights are not given by any government or state. The ultimate source is God and the dignity God has given to humans. If there are human rights they are coupled with duties.
7. In concrete social reality human rights are not always respected. There is a credibility gap between what we say and what we do. The Church proposes to bridge this gap by inviting the more fortunate to renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods at the service of others.
8. “Common good” is about social conditions that make social members reach their fulfillment more fully. The conditions are for them to “bloom”. There is morality here more than just economic or political action. We say morality because of the necessity to find conditions of common good. Society seeks to arrange its economics and politics for the common good. Economics and politics are to be guided by morality. Individuals and groups, however, are not effective in bringing about the common good. The bigger task is on the shoulders of the “political authority”. This “political authority” has the moral task of improving conditions for the common good. (In simpler terms “political authority” can be synonymous with our governments.)
9. Because of the transcendent vocation of the human person and society the common good is not the end of what we all do. The ultimate end is still communion with God. A “successful society” must still be oriented to God.
10. Every human person has the right to use the goods of the earth because the whole earth is given by God to all humanity. The goods of the earth are universally destined. This, however, does not mean an inordinate possession of earth. The use of the earth must still be regulated. Private property is a form of regulating this use of the earth. Humans work on the earth and through their work they “own”. Private property is meant for the “blooming” of the person and his/her family. Private property is not an absolute. It is meant precisely for personal and family “blooming” and should not pose as an obstacle to the possibility of others to also have private property for their “blooming”. Private ownership also has a social function. It is oriented for the common good. In a more complex society ownership is not just ownership of goods of the earth but also of knowledge, technology and competence. Knowledge, technology and competence must also be destined for the common good and not for exclusive private use.
11. In societies there are “deviants” like criminals who are set aside and put to jail. What will human dignity and rights say about this? Is jailing deviants a violation of their dignity and rights?
12. Some religious people feel that their religious life is a “sacrifice” in which they “renounce” some rights. What do you think?
13. Human sexuality is more than just material sexuality. The human body is not just a material object. This makes us view sexual life in a healthier way. Sexual partners, for example, are not “two things” related to each other. They are two persons related to each other. Society relies a lot on the role of the family and family relies a lot on marriage. Marriage is license for a man and woman to unite sexually as persons and not as things. What do you think?
14. How do you situate education in the light of the common good? One problem is that a religious group might envision a school for the poor but end up with a school for the elite. “Knowledge” and “competence” are gained by the elite. How do you evaluate this? What do you think? What can the school do?
15. How can renouncing some amount of private property be a respect for human rights?16. Pope John Paul II says that when a person with family is “ok” and “blooming” well enough and has a relatively secured future, it is not necessary to go in excess of possession. A very rich man, however, might say that he worked so hard to be super rich he sees it no wrong in owning the excess. What do you think?