By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published March 29, 2012
A new series for Catholics will begin in April, with the aim of providing in-depth discussions on current social justice topics that are often overlooked.
The first program will focus on the Church’s teaching on nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and nuclear disarmament.
“Part of the reason we are doing the series is to help the average Catholic in the pew understand how their faith really is a part of how they live their lives and how they make their decisions on far-reaching topics,” said Kat Doyle, director of archdiocesan social justice ministries.
Each session will feature a 30-minute exploration of the Church’s teaching on a particular topic, based on documents, encyclicals and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, given by a member of the clergy or Catholic expert familiar with the theological position. A 10-minute table discussion will follow so participants can digest the information.
An invited guest or organization, familiar with and knowledgeable on the given topic, will then provide a 30-minute presentation with facts and information on what is currently happening with the issue, locally and globally. Another 10-minute table discussion will follow so participants can talk about the information they have received.
The series is meant to be more than informational as social justice ministries will also provide actions plans on how attendees can get involved.
“We are going to give them concrete ways they can act,” said Doyle. “We are going to be able to send people home with action plans, things they can do. … There will be something everybody can go home and do, if they are moved to do so.”
“We want to educate, we want to raise awareness … and we want to give you a way to take action,” Doyle said.
Following the first two-hour presentation, another optional two-hour session will follow with a panel answering questions submitted by the participants. Further time will be spent explaining Church teaching and clarifying any of the information that was presented by the speakers.
The first program on nuclear weapons and disarmament will take place on Saturday, April 28, at Sacred Heart Basilica, Atlanta, from 10 a.m. until 12 noon, followed by the optional session from noon until 2 p.m. Those who want to can preorder a boxed lunch.
The Daisy Alliance, a nonpartisan grassroots peace organization seeking global security through nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological), will be the guest presenter for this first session.
Subsequent presentations will discuss human trafficking, HIV/AIDS and homosexuality, and racism and race relations. The future sessions are scheduled for September and November 2012 and the spring of 2013. All the programs will follow the same format.
Doyle said the presentations will be given in “normal, everyday language” so those who are not familiar with the technical terms of a particular issue will be able to understand the stance of the Church and how to become involved.
“We are not tackling fluffy topics. These are topics that are absolutely a part of what’s going on right here locally in our community and topics that people do not always know … where the Church stands,” said Doyle, who added that a particular focus will be explaining why the Church takes the stance it does.
“This is not a basic Catholic social teaching, social justice, seminar. We expect either those who have a basic foundation of Catholic social teaching or those who are very interested in a particular topic,” said Doyle. “We are doing it because those who have been introduced to Catholic social teaching, which is a group that is getting larger and larger, are asking us to feed them.”