Back in 1975, the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia wrote
"For a long time now,
our Church has been restless
with what many call
"The Modern World".
There is much in this modern world
which is good and beautiful:
the sense of freedom,
the progress of science and technology,
the personal creativity unleashed from
under stifling traditions,
the growing unity of the human family.
God has challenged us
to take up as holy
whatever is good and beautiful
in the modern world
as in all of creation.
But has also challenged us
to resist what is evil,
especially injustice." (This Land is Home to Me)
By the 21st century observation of modern American cultures has prompted Catholic thinkers, religious orders, and teachers, (including, of course, Bishops in their teaching role) to focus on major areas of concern in the United States. Manifest injustices exist in regard to treatment of the poor and the immigrants among us. The right to life of the unborn has been denied by the highest court of the land, and, indeed, our culture often attacks the multiple aspects of a consistent ethic of life. In the decades since This Land is Home to Me appeared, a deeper understanding of our relation to God's creation has deepened and our need to care for it has been constantly reaffirmed by Bishops and other Catholic leaders. (indeed, the 1995 Appalachian Bishops' Pastoral Letter At Home in the Web of Life issues this call to care for creation). It has become evident that the bases for Christian marriage and religious commitment should be better understood and secular attacks against these holy realities should be defended against. Unfortunately, the same analysis applies to freedom of conscience, a right founded in our human personhood and hitherto protected by the national Constitution.
But the themes underlined above are emphasized by the Catholic Conference not because they are aspects of Church teaching under attack, but because they form part of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We trust the six themes of Care for the Poor, Immigration, Ethic of Life, Care for Creation, Marriage/Commitment, and Freedom of Conscience will be well explained by the documents linked to these Educational Themes.