Faith in Action: The Two Feet of Social Justice

Throughout the month of July, the Service & Justice Commission is promoting a parish-wide opportunity to participate in Thanksgiving in July by filling the bins in the back of church with nonperishable items, which will be donated to local food banks to help the poor. We thank you for your support and generosity in this opportunity to put our faith into action as a community  But, we want to make sure you know that there is more to Catholic Social Justice teaching than giving to charity.  As St. Augustine said, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”


The Diocese of Davenport follows the Two Feet approach to social ministry because just as we need Two Feet to walk, an effective social justice ministry must work to meet the basic needs of the poor through charity and also work to address root causes of injustice in society through activism.  Basically, the two feet of social ministry are charity and justice. We give to charity by feeding the poor and sheltering homeless, and we work for justice through activism to create long-term change.


One example of how the church can work for justice is the Joint letter that the United States Council of Catholic Bishops sent to Congress protesting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act warning that “provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing.” The letter challenged the Senate to take into consideration Catholic Social Justice Teaching in each of it’s five key points, which emphasize respect for life/dignity; honoring conscience rights; access for all; truly affordable; and comprehensive, high quality care.


But how can we put our Catholic faith into action and get involved in activism as individuals?


  1. We can educate ourselves on Catholic Social Justice Teaching (Over the next month, the Service & Justice Commission will help with that by explaining the seven themes of Catholic social justice).


  1. When we see injustice, we can contact our congressmen or others in authority with letters, phone calls, emails, texts and postcards, challenging them to conform laws to Catholic Social Justice Teaching.


  1. We can team up with the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action department. They are working to coordinate grassroots social justice initiatives, which are in alignment with church teachings, which make it easier for each of us to participate as individuals, such as providing easy-to-use form letters we can personalize with our own signature and quickly send to our representatives in congress. To learn more, email Kent Ferris at [email protected] or plug into our diocesan social action web page at


  1. We can coordinate with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops by signing up to receive their Social Justice Action Alerts at

Pope John Paul II said “Christians are called by God to be involved in the world in order to transform it according to the  Gospel...these duties include positively contributing to the establishment of just laws and structures that foster human values.”


The Service & Justice Commission would like to encourage more of our parishioners to get engaged in this process. Please contact Nicky Gant at [email protected]  if you are interested in supporting Social Justice initiatives here at St. Paul’s.