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How can faithful people come to different conclusions on social issues?

  • McClatchy Newspapers
  • Published Saturday, August 11, 2012, at 7:39 a.m.

Self-interest can be a problem

The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: No matter what the issue or where it is occurring, there is always a percentage of the people plotted solidly in the ground of self-interest who come to every conclusion based on what is best for them individually.

They think they are always right; they believe their religion is the only true representation of God; they pound their fists on the table to emphasize their political views; they campaign vigorously to hold back rights from others that they themselves enjoy; and they do not worry about the consequences that will befall others as a result of what they want.

Although it may seem like I am criticizing this type of person, I am not. All people are a wonderful part of the great diversity in which we reside and are worthy of respect. I am simply pointing out these people do exist and I believe their me-me-me thoughts of self-interest have bloated to the point of decreasing the oxygen in their minds and smothering out good reasoning.

In dealing with any issue, the primary question on every person’s mind should be, “What is the very best thing for all?” If the people engaged in the issue hold that as foremost in importance, progress will be made and the answer will be discovered. Our differences in opinion need not divide us.

Good people have different ideas

The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church: Catholic social justice teaching largely developed during the 20th century as the church came to view its mission not only as a teacher to its own members, but as a servant of the world community as well.

As that world servant, the church began to analyze social conditions brought about by developments such as industrialization, national governance and global economics and to reflect on these social conditions in the light of the Gospel.

The church advocated for the reform of social institutions to better promote the rights and dignity of each human person and it called upon every Christian to work on behalf of the common good.

Church social teaching generally addresses very complex global issues and is necessarily general and somewhat abstract. It becomes then the task of the local churches and individual Christians to analyze the situations of their locale, reflect on those situations in light of the Gospel and church teaching and develop their own conclusions and directions for action.

Sometimes people come to different conclusions regarding social issues because self-interest clouds their vision. But good and prayerful people may also reach different conclusions because their respective analysis of their local social situations differs. In those instances, they can reasonably argue for different applications of these general teachings.

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