Back at my office, I did a web search and found a similar summary on the website of the USCCB in Washington, DC. The major points presented were these:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family, Community, and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- Care for God's Creation
Two things struck me, however, as problematic in the sense of presenting points of significant vulnerability.
First, even when interpreted faithfully in conformity with Church teaching, none of these points of Catholic social teaching is the Gospel of Christ. These are points of social policy that express the demands of justice and mercy that follow from living in conformity with the demands of the Gospel. But they are not the Gospel. The Gospel, or "Good News," is the promise of salvation and deliverance from the dominion of the Devil by our regeneration and incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. To reduce the "Gospel" to these points of Catholic social teaching is not only misleading, as appealing as it may be to the watching world outside the Church, but to embrace a false gospel.
Second, although these points of Catholic social teaching express important principles of Church teaching, they are also capable of lending themselves all-too-easily to ideological distortion as they are presented here:
- "Life and Dignity of the Human Person" lends itself to being interpreted in terms of a leftist entitlement agenda and gay rights.
- "Call to Family, Community, and Participation" lends itself to being understood in terms of anthropocentric collectivism.
- "Rights and Responsibilities" lends itself to being interpreted in terms of political liberalism, whether of classic "conservative" libertarianism or left-wing socialism.
- "Option for the Poor and Vulnerable" lends itself to being interpreted in terms of Marxist Liberation Theology or the Campaign for Human Development.
- "The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers" lends itself to being understood in terms of Marxist Socialism and its variants.
- "Solidarity" lends itself to geo-political globalism and New Age universalism.
- "Care for God's Creation" lends itself to the ideologically-driven views of Global Warming and Climate Change and Gaia/Nature-worship movements.