By Marc Tumeinski, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology and Program Director of Graduate Theology
During this academic year, Anna Maria College is focused on the mission-related value of justice and peace:
- Acknowledging our place within the world, the College emboldens our students to identify injustices and to contribute peaceful solutions to those injustices.
In this period of a Presidential election and all which this process entails, we are reminded of the centrality of the question of justice and peace. The US Catholic Bishops published a document in 2019 entitled ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: The US Bishops’ Reflection on Catholic Teaching and Political Life.’ I would like to offer three takeaways from this document which I believe relate to the mission and values of Anna Maria, particularly to justice and peace.
- “The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.”
Much attention has been put recently on voting in the Presidential election. This makes sense in light of the structures of our representative democracy. At the same time, political engagement is not just a matter of voting but has broader moral implications, as the US Bishops point out. We are called to develop our sense of right and wrong, and to act accordingly. This entails taking care of each other, particularly those who are vulnerable, and building up the common good, so that each person has access to what they need to grow and flourish. These efforts build on the intrinsic dignity of each and every person; because each person, in Biblical language, is made in the image and likeness of God.
- “The four basic principles of Catholic social doctrine: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity.”
In addition to the principles of dignity and the common good mentioned in the first point, the Bishops also highlight the importance of subsidiarity and solidarity. Just as we respect the autonomy and dignity of the individual person, subsidiarity calls for respect toward family, neighborhoods, small associations such as clubs, local organizations, and so on. It speaks to a preference for what is local and decentralized, rather than for large, formal, bureaucratic and distant structures. Solidarity describes the bonds of interdependence that connect us. Pope Francis compares solidarity to the relationships that exist between sisters and brothers. We should see and care for one another just as we would for our family. Both subsidiarity and solidarity help to build up peace.
- “At all levels of society, we are aware of a great need for leadership that models love for righteousness (Wisdom 1:1) as well as the virtues of justice, prudence, courage, and temperance.”
Part of the mission of Anna Maria is to ‘educate our students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals.’ Ethical leaders should, the Bishops teach, strive to be loving, just, wise, courageous and self-disciplined. This sets a high bar for our students but one that we can help them reach for everyday at Anna Maria.
Please click here to learn more about Anna Maria College’s mission and the values that are integrated into its core curriculum.