Ozanam: a pioneer in social justice

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Frederick Ozanam was an outstanding pioneer in the renewed stress on social justice in the Church. Many church statements today reflect his views insisting that work for social justice is an essential aspect of evangelisation. As John Paul II reiterated after the 1998 Synod of Bishops of Oceania: ‘It is certain that commitment to justice and peace is an integral part of the Church’s mission…’ (Ecclesia in Oceania, 26). Ozanam clearly saw the duty of Christians being to transform society so that it might embody the values and aspirations of the Gospels.

A man of profound belief, Ozanam urged his contemporaries boldly to address the critical social issues of his day, not to be silent or, even worse, to allow religious beliefs to be used as a conservative political ideology allied to injustice and social inequality. Ozanam strongly articulated what in recent times the Church terms the ‘option for the poor’.

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