Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Group May Bring Us Closer to Being Christian

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Group May Bring Us Closer to Being Christian

Article excerpt

Social justice -- like politics -- is often the art of the possible. These days the possible is being affected by a shift to the right in our language, our politics and our expectations of government.

The social justice groups, of course, have not given up their convictions or their mandate to help poor people. But they do have to operate in a society where what once was considered "right" has become the political "center."

Such is the sociopolitical setting for the unusual roundtable gathering of evangelical, Protestant and Catholic charitable and social service/social justice groups that met in Philadelphia April 26 for a "conversation" in support of poor people (see page 5).

The Catholic sense of social justice, based on the scriptures and honed over years of church teaching, appears to be having a particular impact in this arena. This is a cause for modesty rather than triumphalism. Modesty because Catholics engaged in this promising new dialogue that crosses Catholic-Protestant lines might otherwise miss what others are saying.

An understanding of the new definition of right and left means accepting that society's vocabulary has shifted rightwards -- away from government as the finder and funder of solutions to society's ills. That acceptance was apparent in the meeting sponsored by Call to Renewal, an organization founded by Sojourners' James Wallis, an evangelical minister stumping for a new political vision.

The gathering, representing a wide spectrum of Christian groups, was in some ways pre-empting the president's volunteerism summit while at the same time gently reminding religions that volunteers and charity groups cannot do it alone. …

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