Charity, Justice, and the Common Good

Just as the Sacraments offer a visible sign of God’s invisible grace, we too as Christians are called to be sacraments in the world: to be continuing proof of God’s everlasting love for His people. Indeed, the Gospel is meant to be lived! The Church has used the words charity and justice to describe her call to social ministry. Although intimately connected, charity and justice are two distinctive responses to the call to bring life to the world. In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI writes:


Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is ‘mine’ to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is ‘his,’ what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot ‘give’ what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. (6)


The following are examples of activities that could promote charity in a school community:

·      Supporting food banks

·      Providing Christmas hampers or food baskets

·      Promoting clothing centres

·      Visiting the elderly

·      Sponsoring a refugee family

·      Volunteering with charitable organizations


The following are examples of activities that could promote justice in a school community:

·      Teaching students to consider issues related to the dignity of human life when engaging in political dialogue, debate and activities.

·      Raising funds for a needed local or international project that supports sustainable development

·      Facilitating reflection on Catholic Social Teaching

·      Organizing community development projects (e.g., community garden)

·      Organizing educational campaigns about issues related to social justice


Regardless of the types of activities being promoted, the common good should always be an important consideration:


Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. (Caritas in Veritate 7)