08 March 2023, The Tablet

Church's social teaching forms 'seamless garment' says cardinal

“You can’t just have the pro-life banner, you can't just have the progressive social issues – you’ve got to have them all.”

Church's social teaching forms 'seamless garment' says cardinal

The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, pictured in May 2022.
Fordham Alumni/Flickr | Creative Commons

Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory said Pope Francis has made it “totally uncomfortable [for Catholics] to take great comfort in any one dimension of the Church’s social teaching” by his insistence that it forms a seamless garment, even while the nation’s two political parties selectively align with some Church teachings and oppose others.

“And [Pope Francis] makes it possible for us to say, if you really want to be adaptable, you've got to embrace the whole Church’s social teaching,” Gregory said.

“So you can’t be comfortable with just the pro-life banner, you can't be comfortable with just the progressive social [issues] – you’ve got to have them all.”

The cardinal was on a panel at an event commemorating the tenth anniversary of Francis’ election, sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought.

The cardinal also addressed the polarisation within the country.

“It’s clear that we’ve got to do something to allow people to speak to each other with civility, honesty, charity, and not feel that there are winners and losers, feel like either I win or you win,” he said.

“Francis says: why don’t we both win by understanding the breadth of the Catholic faith and approaching complex issues with a reverential deference to the truth?”

Also speaking at the event was Sr Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, along the Mexican border.

Discussing her work with migrants, she said: “You know, I always invite everyone to come and see. [You] need to see the families, you have to see the faces, the children and the tears, and be really close, so that you can understand what [the Pope is] talking about.

“It’s only then that you know what you need to do. Because I think God created us in a way to care for one another.

“And Pope Francis knows that perfectly and he’s really inviting us to do that – that’s why he pushes us to the peripheries because that’s where those are that are left out, that are marginalised, that are really struggling – they don’t fit into the Church that we’ve made.”

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99