“Social Justice” is becoming a pejorative—as in “Social Justice Warrior.”
This is disturbing, because social justice is a real thing, and a part of Catholic teaching. As Catholics, we are bound to believe in “social justice.”
It joins a long line of terms that have been hijacked by people on the left and used as euphemisms, destroying the original meaning. Other examples are “liberal,” “progressive,” “racism,” “equality” or “human rights.” They now mean about the opposite of what they originally did. The moral prestige earned by the original term and its earlier advocates has been subverted to promote something different, and incompatible.
There are, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, three elements to social justice:
1. respect for the human person; i.e., human rights. But the term “human rights” has been distorted in its turn. Anyone who supports abortion does not support social justice. The right to life is the most fundamental of human rights.
2. human equality; i.e., no discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion. But the term “equality” has been distorted in turn. No discrimination means no discrimination: no “affirmative action,” no talk of “white privilege.” And this does not mean you cannot discriminate on the grounds of actions. If someone commits a crime, it is not unjust discrimination to impose a penalty in law. Accordingly, it is perfectly proper to condemn as sin, for example, homosexual sex or a man pretending to be a woman. This is in fact equality: imposing the same rules on everyone. To do otherwise is discrimination.
3. human solidarity; i.e., the poor and weak must be cared for. This does not mean equal incomes. This means a “social safety net.” Anyone who has what is sufficient for their needs has no business demanding the property of another. That is the sin of covetousness.