Respecting the Rights of Others

Background Article

The Church teaches that we have a duty, both as individuals and as a community, to protect the rights of others. At the core of all inherent rights is the dignity of the human person and the right to life. Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community achieved only when the rights of all people are protected and our responsibilities of all people are met. We, therefore, have responsibilities to one another, to our families, and to society in general.

Every basic human right draws its authoritative force from the natural law, which confers it and attaches to it its respective duty.  Hence, to claim one’s rights and ignore one’s duties, or only half fulfill  them, is like building a house with one hand and tearing it down with the  other.

Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), 30

As a starting place, people within a family need to be just with each other. Each person has rights and duties within the family community. To be just, each person must respect the rights of other family members. Everyone needs to fulfill their family obligations as well. This then extends to the parish community, and the world community.

  • How do I respect the rights of others as well as my own?
  • What family obligations do I have and how do they relate to honoring each family member?

Links
Resources on Rights and Responsibiltieis
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Centering Faith in the Home

Background Article

The Church teaches that parents have an essential role in the faith formation of their children. This role is so crucial that the Church refers to the parents as the primary educators of their children.

Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor.

Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), 3

In many parishes, children celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time in the Second Grade. If your parish is one of these, keep in mind that this is a critical time to involve parents and other family members. Together work toward centering the preparation for these sacraments in the home. As parents gain confidence in introducing their children to the Sacraments and sharing their faith with them, they will be proud of their role and see it as rightfully theirs. Parents will also appreciate the roles of the catechist and parish community in sustaining and supporting their family in the Catholic faith.

  • How I do involve the parents and family in the faith formation of their children?
  • How can I help parents see themselves as the “primary educators” of their children, especially in regards to the faith formation of their children?

Links
CST 101 | Call to Family, Community, and Participation

From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

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Helping Others Like Jesus

Background Article

Our Church teaches that the need to promote and preserve the dignity of individuals is essential to justice. Catholic social teaching calls us to give preference to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. This raises an important issue that is often overlooked. Although we may seek to ensure that those in need receive the basic necessities, often the administration of social programs can sometimes dehumanize those who need help.

The needs of the poor take  priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the  maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled  industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for  military purposes.

USCCB, Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, 94, 1986

Therefore, we should look to the Gospels and observe how Jesus treated the poor and sick. Jesus gives a clear example of the need to respect those to whom we minister. We should periodically review our charitable programs and actions and keep Jesus words in mind, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Let’s remember that we are ministering to the Lord himself.

  • Which Gospel story about Jesus and the disenfranchised comes to mind?
  • How might I apply this Gospel story to my own life?

Links
Option of the Poor and Vulnerable Resources
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Promote a Culture of Life

Background Article

The Catholic Church teaches that every human being has been created by God in his divine image and is precious to him. This is why the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person are the foundation of Catholic social teaching.

We are asked to love and honor the life of every man and woman and to work with perseverance and courage so that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love.

Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life), 77

In our society today, human life is under direct attack from abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, and the death penalty. Every Catholic has the moral obligation to protect human life from conception until natural death.

  • Which of the life issues do I think is in most need of advocacy today?
  • What are some ways that I can help to promote a Culture of Life?

Links
Culture of Life Resources
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CST 101 | Life and Dignity of the Human Person
From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

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Sharing the Beauty of God's Creation

Unit Activity

Bring in a tree leaf, flower, rock, container of water, and any other created object that may be of interest to the children. Sit together in a circle. Pass around each object. Encourage the children to share what it feels like, its color, and how it help us to live. Do this with each object. Close with a discussion on how all of these things were created by God. God made them to help us enjoy his Creation. Explain to the children that each of us has a responsibility to protect God’s Creation.

Give each child a piece of paper and crayons or markers. Encourage the children to think of ways they could share the beauty of flowers with others, or the beauty of rocks, or etc. Have them draw a picture of their favorite flower, or created object. Send their pictures home with the children to share the beauty of God’s Creation with their families.

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Protectors of Creation

Background Article

As the Church continually states in her teachings on stewardship, we have an obligation to respect and care for God’s creation. There is, fortunately, a growing awareness that we need to make greater efforts to conserve our natural resources, recycle what we can, and be less wasteful in general. God calls us to be good stewards of every gift has has given us. Stewardship involves governments, corporations, communities, families, and individuals.

“I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

Pope Francis, Inauguration, 3/19/13

One of the greatest gifts of creation is the tremendous variety of animal and plant life on our planet. We are finally learning that these, too, should be used prudently. Many medicines are derived from rare plants, and the benefits we gain from these plants, are important to human life. We need to be concerned not only about people, but all living things, because all of God’s creation is a gift.

  • Do I appreciate and respect the beauty of various kinds of plants and animals?
  • How do I show this respect and live out the call to protect God’s creation?

 

Links
Environment Justice Program

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CST 101 | Care for God’s Creation
From Catholic Relief Services YouTube

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One Human Family

Background Article

Our Church teaches that we are one human family. As children of God, we are brothers and sisters called to be responsible for one another. Loving our brothers and sisters throughout the world requires that we work for peace and justice.

“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

Pope Francis, Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development, 7/14/2014

These brothers and sisters include immigrants to our country, both legal and illegal. Our U.S. bishops have advocated a viable path to citizenship for the undocumented, more generous family reunification policies, and a temporary worker program. In “Strangers No Longer,” the bishops state that nations have the right to control their borders. They also state that this right must be balanced against the right of persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights. It all comes down to a matter of balancing. A nation has a responsibility to the common good of its own people and this must be balanced against a need for universal common good.

Additionally, the bishops recognize that there are conditions that compel people to leave their homes out of desperation and lack of opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. These issues must be addressed if an effective and comprehensive response to migration is to be achieved in our country.

  • What do I know about the immigration issues in the United States?
  • Do I pray that there be justice for all who migrate to our country?

Links
Brothers and Sisters to Us
USCCB’s Pastoral Letter on Racism, 1979

Migrant and Refugee Children Resources
Downloadable fact sheets from the USCCB

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See My Hidden Quality

Unit Activity

Provide each child with a large unlined index card and a crayon or marker. Attach a loop of yarn long enough to hang the card around a child’s neck. Instruct each child to write a word or phrase on the card that expresses a “hidden quality” the child possesses that others may not be aware of (e.g., I am kind, I share, I help others). As an option, tell the children that they can draw pictures or symbols that express their qualities.

Allow the children to wear their cards for the remainder of the session. Suggest that each time they see another child’s card, they should remember that God has given each person special qualities that we may not always see on the outside.

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A Teaching Mass Moment

Unit Activity

Talk with your parish priest about setting up a teaching Mass for children and their parents. You may want to consider using the Chapel for a smaller setting. You could offer to help the celebrant by identifying the items at the time of their use during the Mass. Perhaps beforehand the priest could explain the vestments and the seasonal color being used. This would enable parents and children to be more involved during future liturgical celebrations.

Use may also choose to share and use the Tour of a Catholic Church video provided on this website.

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Respecting Our Shared Space

Unit Activity

How we take care of the space we live and work in demonstrates our responsibilities to one another. We can show respect to one another by respecting our shared space.

Caring for the parish or school grounds is a responsibility in which children can be involved in. Work together to create slogans describing responsible actions. These can be made into posters or “bumper stickers.” They could involve actions such as: not littering, protecting plants, not bullying anyone on the playground, including others in games. The children will be able to add more ideas to this list of possibilities. Select the best ideas and create posters to display in the proper areas. Discuss the rights that are connected to these responsibilities.

Ask the children to think about their rights and duties. Invite them to share ideas of ways they can protect their rights and fulfill their duties – at home and at school. Help them to understand the rights to food, clothing, shelter, and safety that they have. Note that family chores and homework are some of their responsibilities, or duties.

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