See, Judge, Act
By Fr. Kevin McKenna
Bishop Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego addressed participants at the U.S. Regional Meeting of Popular Movements in February of 2017. In his address, he spoke of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961) and its call to restructure the economies of the world using the methodology of “See, Judge, Act.” Pope John had challenged young people especially to grasp this method, which isn’t immersed in abstraction but action: First, review the concrete situation in society that needs change: what are people experiencing and how are they responding? Is there helpful data available? Second: how did the injustice develop? One forms a judgment which can develop from theological reflection, scripture, social teaching and social analysis. And third: what can and should be done to address the root causes? What actions can address the social structure that causes the injustice? How can the relationships and/or structures that created the injustice be alleviated or transformed?
Pope Francis in his address to Congress in 2015 stated that the world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. He also acknowledged that the crisis presented difficult choices but he encouraged Americans not to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and instead to listen to the stories of immigrants and refugees and to respond in a way that is humane, just and fraternal. “We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays to discard whatever proves troublesome ...”
The U.S. Bishops have supported efforts for a just treatment of refugees and migrants, including the legal due process protections that are available to those fleeing persecution. As U.S. Bishops whose states border Mexico said: “Seeking refuge from persecution and violence in search of a peaceful life for oneself and one's family is not a crime.” In 2016, 85,000 refugees were admitted to the U.S. In 2017 the number dropped to 54,000. The Administration has set a cap in 2018 of 45,000 but the pace of new admissions suggests that far fewer will be resettled here.
Bishop McElroy in his address asked that the agents of justice in today’s Church revitalize this “See-Judge-Act” approach with a call to action by those who hunger and thirst for justice: “So let us see and judge and act. Let us disrupt and rebuild. And let us do God’s work.”
Pastoral leaders have had many opportunities while walking with Pope Francis, to see the disparities and inequalities in our society and culture such as immigration, that must be addressed and to make judgments about these issues with a theological and scriptural lens. Now it is time to act.
Posted by Marcus Ebenhoe