What is Catholic Social Teaching?

Categories: Questions of Faith

Catholic Social Teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. The Church has always had social teaching, but its modern form emerged at the end of the 19th century as a response to the injustices of the Industrial Revolution and the threat of Communism.

These are some key themes:

1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person. Every person is precious, from conception to natural death, and the measure of every institution is how it enhances or threatens the life and dignity of the human person.

2. Call to Family, Community and Participation. The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened.

3. Rights and Responsibilities. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families and to the larger society.

4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. We recall the account of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) that instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. Workers have a right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organisation and joining of unions, to private property and to economic initiative.

6. Solidarity. We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. Loving our neighbour has global dimensions in the pursuit of justice and peace.

7. Care for God’s Creation. We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is a requirement of faith.

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Author: Fr Andrew