I’m sick of it. I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding sex and marriage is one thing, in that old-fashioned trinket box over there, while Catholic teaching regarding stewardship and our duties to the poor is another thing, on that marble pedestal over here. I’m sick of hearing that Catholic teaching regarding the Church and her authority is one thing, the embarrassing Latinate red-edged tome tucked away in that closet, while Catholic teaching regarding the laity is another, and pass that bread this way! No, it is all of a piece. What the Church says about divorce is inextricable from what she says about the poor. What she says about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is inextricable from what she says about the respects in which all men are created equal—and the many respects in which she insists upon a salutary inequality. When we fail to see the integrity of the faith, not only do certain truths escape our notice; the rest, the truths we think we see, grow monstrous, like cancers, and work to destroy the flesh they once seemed to replace.
Esolen establishes the entire conversation around the encyclicals of Leo XIII (1878-1903) (and thus basis for Esolen's 2014 book Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching.) Just as today, Leo recognized that not much permanent can built atop secularism's shifty ground. Not that folks don't try, obviously. Either way, Esolen reminds us that Catholic social teaching calls us to (at least) two vocations: 1) witnessing to the truth in the marketplace, i.e., get out there and speak to and in defense of the Truth--the Gospel; and 2) minister to those crushed by their furtive embrace of secularism. There will casualties, and it's not our place to stand along the sidelines, pointing our fingers, clucking our tongues "Look what you got yourself into now!" No, Esolen argues, we are called to love.
"We must insist upon this connection. I cannot give amoral love. But human beings need love; they need the love that brings them deeper into the truth."