Baltimore, Md., Nov 12, 2013 / 01:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ message of concern for the poor is one that is echoed in the U.S., as part of a robust Catholic social teaching that cares for immigrants, the unborn and the religiously persecuted, said two cardinals.
“The message has been so consistently a message of social concern,” explained Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
He explained that “sometimes the spotlight will focus on one aspect of the teaching,” and the emphasis is currently moving towards “the needs of the poor.” However, this does not mean a change in Catholic teaching, he said, pointing to the Church’s long history of social justice advocacy in the U.S., which was influential in forming institutions and legislation in the country.
This focus may seem new because of the ability to overlook the poor in the United States, he said, observing that because the country is relatively well-off, “I think at times we don’t always see the needs of people right here in our own country.”
Part of the Church’s great task is teaching the Gospel message “in a world that is constantly changing” and hostile at times, the cardinal noted.
“All of that has to be done in the context of God’s love for us,” he continued.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference, agreed.
Poverty “has been a constant, constant concern since the founding of the Conference of Bishops,” he said.
Throughout the course of his three-year presidency, the cardinal explained, he has received “griping” complaints from some Catholics who think “we’re too concerned on social justice issues,” such as poverty, immigration, and education.
“I hope we are hung up on that, because we’re supposed to, because that’s what Jesus asked us to be,” he stressed.
The cardinals spoke at a Nov. 11 press conference after the first general session of the U.S. bishops’ conference fall general assembly in Baltimore.
They also discussed the importance of international religious liberty, which was a focus of Cardinal Dolan’s presidential address to the bishops.
The cardinal connected international religious freedom with efforts to defend religious liberty at home.
“We’ve achieved such unity, we’ve achieved such enthusiasm, we’ve achieved ecumenical cooperation and we’ve achieved such interest, that it’s raised our conscience to say that we can’t stop here,” he explained.
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