Year of Youth 2018

If I Could Change the World... | Year of Youth Blog

Last edited 5th September 2018

If I Could Change the World... | Year of Youth Blog

Earlier this year, I interned for the Holy See’s (Vatican’s) office at United Nations. Anyone who knows me knows that this has been my dream since I could walk... and it was everything I could wish for. I fell in love wholeheartedly with the work and only more in love with the Church. I watched in awe as the diplomats I worked under stood on the world stage and fought for the dignity and rights of the less fortunate. I hoped one day I could do the same. As I navigated through the grids of New York City, I plotted daily on ways I could return.

[UN Photo/Manuel Elias, 20 April 2016, United Nations, New York, Photo # 672243]

On my last day, my boss called me into his office for an exit interview.

“You’ve done great work here, Koreen. But I want to know, what’s next for you? Where are you going to head from here?” he asked, and I knew he genuinely wanted to see what the future held for me.

“I don’t know,” I said in an uncertain manner, “maybe I’ll do law… or teaching... or social work. All I know is that maybe one day, I’d like to be back here.”

I expected him to be happy for me and to encourage me to pursue that dream. He said something different instead.

* * *

People are often surprised that the Catholic Church has social teachings. It’s almost as if we’re this institution that exists only in the crowds with no real grasp on the realities of the world. How I wish people could see that’s profoundly untrue.

As the name suggests, Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is the Church’s take on social justice issues. It touches on a wide range of issues from family life to international development; from the political sphere to the personal sphere. What strikes me most about CST is that it doesn’t call us to do the impossible, but instead, what is prudent. It invites us to fight for social justice, not in an impractical way but in a very real, possible way. CST inspires me because it reminds me that we’re a Church of action and a Church of accountability.

Many people have their own takes on how to tackle CSTs but the most common way is to categorise them into seven principles.

1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person. Human life is sacred – a notion that can be lost in the turbulence of our world. The Church advocates for the dignity of people in all phases of life, from the moment of conception to someone’s last breath.

2. Call to Family, Community and Participation. As social beings, interactions with others are communities are vital. The way that society is organised directly affects the capacity of individuals to grow and we should also strive to be active participants in our communities.

3. Rights and Responsibilities. Every person has fundamental rights to life and rights to things required for human decency. Similarly, every person has the responsibility to ensure these rights for others.

4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. It’s often said that the moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. In a society with only deepening divisions between rich and poor, the hardships of the poor is a wound to the whole community.

5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. Work, as a normal part of everyday life, should be safe, just and decent. The economy should serve people, not the other way around.

6. Solidarity. We are called to be peacemakers; knowing that we all belong to each other irrespective of national, religious, ethnic, economic, political and ideological differences.

7. Care for God’s Creation. We are called to be stewards of creation. We should strive to protect the earthly home God filled in abundance for our sake.

As you can probably tell, CSTs are relevant to everyone. Every person has human dignity, everyone has their rights and responsibilities and we all inhabit the same earth. CSTs arose to protect the vulnerable and ensure that EVERY person can thrive.

* * *

“You want to end up back here?” he questioned me.

I started to get nervous.

“Yes, Father. The UN has always been my dream.”

“Koreen,” he began, with a tenderness that can only be likened to a father’s love. “There are bigger and realer things in the life than the UN.”

“What can be more big and real than this?”

“Real life, Koreen. The real need is in real life. You won’t change the world here. You need to be where the people are.”

Koreen is a young, passionate heart striving to be a saint. She has vast experience in youth ministry and is especially interested in Catholic social teaching. Her regular day involves binge-watching nature documentaries on Netflix, drinking her body weight in tea and consuming at least three different types of chocolate.

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Ronald Fisher
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Ronald Fisher wrote at 11:15pm on September 12th 2018
Only three types of chocolate? You must be a Collingwood supporter.
It’s great to see young people with such fire as you.
God bless