Loyola Chicago Alum Remembers—but not Fondly—Getting a Master’s Degree in Social Justice
June 27, 2012, at 3:58 PM
By Charlotte Hays |
Although the term “social justice” has a rich meaning in Catholic thought, Stephen Kokx, who has a master’s degree in social justice from Loyola University Chicago, says there is a great deal of confusion about what the term actually means.
Kokx seems to blame the social justice program at his alma mater for contributing to the confusion.
Writing in Crisis, Kokx charges
that most of his classmates emerged from Loyola with “a naïve understanding of both social justice and capitalism.”
Though the program itself claimed to provide an “interdisciplinary foundation in justice theories and social ethics,” it was anything but open to the oft-referenced “oppressive” dictates of the Church’s white-male dominated hierarchy. Instead of preaching the teachings of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, Loyola’s social justice program educated its students with the writings of Unitarian ministers, eco-feminists, liberation theologians, liberal philosophers like John Rawls, dissenting Catholics like Charles Curran, progressive Christians like Jim Wallis, and radical groups like the 8th Day Center for Justice.
Interestingly, Kokx indicates that social justice may have a bad reputation today because of the way it is taught:
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation.” Social justice rightly understood is not a code word for communism, as Glenn Beck once proclaimed. Although he was right to demonstrate how the phrase itself has been hijacked by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, social justice within the Catholic faith actually means something entirely different.
Ryan Messmore, a Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, clarifies this confusion by reminding us of its original meaning. “Today,” Messmore writes, “political activists often use the phrase ‘social justice’ to justify government redistribution of wealth.” However, Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, the ninetheenth- century Jesuit Italian priest who coined the phrase, prefaced the word justice with social in order to “emphasize the social nature of human beings” and “the importance of various social spheres outside civic government.”
Social justice to Taparelli entailed a “social order in which government doesn’t overrun or crowd out institutions of civil society such as family, church and local organizations.”
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