In order to define Social Justice, let us begin, by taking a look at what social ministry is:
Social Ministry has two main aspects: social service (also known as Parish or Social Outreach) and social action (also known as Social Justice.
Social Service is giving direct aid to someone in need. It usually involves performing one or more of the corporal works of mercy. That is, giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, taking care of orphans and widows, visiting the shut-ins etc. Another name for it is charity. We at St. Bartholomew's are involved in a number of charitable works: the Parish Food Pantry, support of the Community FoodBank in Hilside, feeding the hungary and housing the homeless through Homefirst, and offering alms and solidarity to the poor in underdevelooped countries through Operation Rice Bowl.
Social Action is correcting the structures that perpetuate the need. Another name for this is Social Justice. Through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, we begin to take a look at the problems and issues facing us in our own communities, the nation and finally the world, and we begin to ask questions such as, "Why is there so much unemployment in our area?" "Why are there so many poor in our community?" "How come not everyone in our nation has access to health care, etc. Very often when you are performing social service, you also become involved in solving the problem which created the need in the first place, and the two are closely related and often blend together. An example of this would be, someone comes to our Food Pantry, and tells us she has no food, because she lost her job recently. You may know of an employer looking to hire someone right away for a job requiring little or no skills. You give that person food, then place that person in touch with the employer. You then would have solved both problems for that person. (a) the immediate need of food through an act of charity (social service) and (b) you would have corrected the problem which created and perpetuated the need. (Social Justice).