Social Ministry

The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church – (Also-Known-As, Catholic Social Teaching or Social Justice):

In a letter dated September 1, 2011, and distributed to Priests and Parish Life Coordinators, Bishop James V. Johnston issued “Norms Regarding Speakers, Awards, Political Activity, and Voter Education.”   A copy of those norms are below,  Only those materials, programs or resources listed as “approved” may be distributed (or presented) by church employees in any context or by anyone on church property, regarding the participation of Catholics in elections, politics and public life.

Awards, Honors, and Invitation to Speakers

Any Catholic entity in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, and any boards / fundraising committees affiliated with them, shall not give awards or honors or host presentations, speaking opportunities or appearances by individuals or organizations whose public position is in opposition to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.  Due diligence in researching the appropriateness of a speaker or honoree is the responsibility of the sponsoring parish or organization.

Political Activity and Voter Education

Parishes and Church organizations may not endorse, give money or other resources (including offering exclusive use of parish controlled property or resources) to a candidate or political party. Only those programs or voter education materials listed below (or subsequently approved) may be distributed in parishes, schools or other entities of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Voter registration and “get out the vote” drives can be permissible if truly nonpartisan.

Parishes and Church organizations should avoid any participation in, or authorization of, the distribution of campaign literature or other voter education materials on their property. Political signs should not be placed on property owned or rented for official business by a parish or Church organization.

Issue advocacy campaigns may be permissible if the campaign is conducted in a nonpartisan manner and the position taken is consistent with Catholic teaching and the public policy positions of the Missouri Catholic Conference and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Approved Resources for Promoting Catholic Participation in Public Life

All documents approved by the various congregations of the Vatican as well as those approved or promulgated by the Popes or Ecumenical Councils of the Church.  In particular, under this category, the following resources are recommended.

  1. Caritas in Veritate  (In Charity and Truth), Pope Benedict XVI, 2009
  2. Deus Caritas Est, (God Is Love), Pope Benedict XVI, 2005
  3. “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church
  5. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
  6. “Catholics in Political Life,” Statement of the USCCB, June 2004
  7. “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” See,

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