Catholic Social Teaching
Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our Catholic faith. As Catholics, our teachings are drawn from the words of Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures and because of that we believe that human life and human dignity are inherently sacred. As such, we have an enduring duty of commitment to the poor and to the most vulnerable.
Catholic Social Teaching is the way we, as Catholics, live out God’s greatest commandment – to love one another.
Catholic Social Teaching calls all of us to reach out and build personal relationships with those in most need of mercy and justice. It also calls us to inspire and defend the sacred dignity of the human person, while also promoting the common good.
The Ten Foundations of Catholic Social Teaching
All descriptions have been taken directly from the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
- Protection of Human Life
“Every human life, from the moment of conception until natural death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.” (CCC #2319)
- Respect for Human Dignity
“Being in the image and likeness of God the human person possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into community with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.” (CCC #357)
- Community & Associations
“Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of the society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged ‘on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs.’ This ‘socialization’ also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the quality of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.” (CCC #1882)
- Social Participation
“Participation is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person.” (CCC #1913)
- Preference for the Poor and Vulnerable
“‘The Kingdom belongs to the poor and the lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to ‘preach good news to the poor’; he declares them blessed, for ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ To them – the ‘little ones’ – the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love towards them the conditions for entering the kingdom.” (CCC #544)
“Socio-economic problems can be resolved only with the help of all forms of solidarity; solidarity of the poor among themselves, between rich and poor, of workers among themselves, between employers and employees in business, solidarity among nations and people. International solidarity is a requirement of the moral order; world peace depends in part on this.” (CCC #1941)
- Stewardship of Nature
“The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.” (CCC #2415)
“Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” (CCC # 1883)
- The Dignity and Rights of Workers
“In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work. Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.” (CCC #2428)
- Common Good
“By common good is to be understood as ‘the sum total of social conditions which allows people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.’ The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority.” (CCC #1906)