Social analysis must serve as a necessary first step for church action in the community. Canon Joseph Cardijn (1882–1967), a Belgian Roman Catholic priest who inspired Catholic social action groups such as the Young Christian Workers, used the phrase “see-judge-act” to provide a framework for action.
The first important step was “seeing.” Working with young women, many of them needle workers, prior to World War II, he taught them to start by looking carefully at their work setting and their surrounding relationships rather than looking simply at the facts and figures about a particular situation. Using this “seeing” as first step, they could then “judge” by reflecting on a Christian social teaching that discusses this problem and a Gospel lesson addressing the issue. Then they could “act” by drawing up a plan of action.
Borrowing from Cardijn’s method, church leaders should analyze their own communities deeply before starting a particular project of neighborhood assistance.
Photo: Vincentian Family Office, https://famvin.org