There seems to be a divide in the Catholic Church between so-called “pro-life” Catholic and so-called “social justice” Catholics. Where did this come from? How do we heal this split? That’s what Bishop Barron discusses in this episode. A listener asks how to respond when a beggar asks for money on the street.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:05 – Intro: Ingrid Goes West and Facebook announcement
  • 3:45 – How did the Pro-Life movement and the Social Justice movement become divided?
  • 5:55 – How should the “both/and” quality of Catholicism address this great separation?
  • 7:00 – What does “social justice” mean in the Catholic tradition?
  • 9:15 – Should the Pro-Life and Social Justice movements be equally emphasized in the life of the Church?
  • 13:20 – How do we heal the divide between these two groups of Catholics?
  • 14:55 – How can the saints help provide a path forward?
  • 17:00 – How does Pope Francis balance the priority of these two issues?
  • 19:32 – Question from listener: How should Catholics react to beggars on the street?

Bonus Resources 


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6 comments on “WOF 092: Pro-Life AND Social Justice

  1. Michael James Greenan Sep 11, 2017

    Fantastic discussion and very relevant to our specific time. One of my pet peeves is when conservative Catholics and liberal Catholics conflate their politics with Catholicism. As Cardinal Francis George said, “I don’t want conservative Catholicism, and I don’t want liberal Catholicism. I want Catholicism.”

  2. I agree with Bishop Barron’s response to the listener question. I have encountered many homeless people in my respective metro area, and often times I feel that I can trust some people more than others with giving them money. Some people may be messed up (intoxication perhaps), but others may appear to be really needy and genuine too. So I think using prudence is good advice from the Bishop. My thing is that if I intuit that a poor person begging does have some level of trustworthiness, I usually only give them one or two dollars. If they really do need food or a bus ticket, that money does help them significantly. After all, you can buy an adequate meal for five dollars. But if they are using the money for harm, then I do not see that the little amount of money I have given them is going to destroy them because sooner or later they would probably get the money anyway. So either my one or two dollars can contribute greatly towards a meal or else it is not going to do too much damage to them if they choose to buy bad things.

  3. I have read so many posts regarding the blogger lovers however this piece of writing is really a pleasant post, keep it up.

  4. Michael Sep 16, 2017

    In response to the listener question, I try to drive though a particular intersection every week or so because there is a homeless fellow named Jesse there. He usually looks a bit spaced out. I give him a five and greet him by name and ask how he is doing. He usually tells me of an ailment or some other aspect of his plight. The five I give him may buy him a burger or he might use it for something that is not good for him. That is between him and God. But for me, the money is an excuse to grant him a small amount of dignity that he has a friend who cares enough to remember his name.

  5. If we don’t understand where the prolife-social justice divide comes from, we’ll never really overcome it. It exists because of the general liberal/conservative divide that exists in society at large (in the US at least). And that divide arose out of the social transformation of American society that took hold during the 1960s. We’re still fighting those battles. The “liberal” side of the country celebrates what is seen as “’60s America”, i.e. the expansion of racial and gender equality, the loosening of gender roles and sexual mores, the values of tolerance, open-mindedness, etc. The “conservative” side of America prefers what is seen as “’50s America”, in which people valued all things traditional: religion, clear moral codes of behavior, i.e. the traditional order and structure of society. So it should be no surprise that these basic social divisions become visible in how Catholics understand their faith and what role it should play in life. Catholics who share an affinity for “’50s America” are most concerned with the decline of traditional morality and social norms. For them, opposing abortion and liberal ideas about marriage, gender, etc. take obvious priority. Catholics who champion “’60s America” and its values of equality, tolerance, etc. naturally agree that social justice issues must take priority. It’s great that Bishop Barron can understand and articulate a clear sense of what Catholic priorities ought to be, which transcends the narrow cultural categories of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’. Unfortunately, most Catholics don’t live in that thought world. They are in the world of modern American social divisions, which have dominated social thought over the last 50 years. The only way to “get over the divide” is to have all Catholics plugged into the true Catholic understanding of the issues of our day and how to rightfully prioritize everything. We’ll see if that happens.

    • Because Vatican II took place in the 1960s, as did the major liturgical changes in the years thereafter, the council is seen as being part of that transformation. Those who have a clear understanding of the council and the changes implemented after it don’t buy into that association, but that misconception prevails anyway (among the “spirit of Vatican II” types as well as those in the arch-traditionalist crowd).