Catholic Social Teaching

Seven Core Principles of Catholic Social Teaching

1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and assisted suicide. The value of human life is being threatened by increasing use of the death penalty. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances 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 in economics and politics, in law and policy directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

3. Rights and Responsibilities

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, 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. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and 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. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

6. Solidarity

We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means learning that “loving our neighbor” has global dimensions in an interdependent world.

7. Care for God’s Creation

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

Major Documents 

Modern Catholic social teaching is the body of social principles and moral teaching that is articulated in the papal, conciliar, and other official documents issued since the late nineteenth century and dealing with the economic, political, and social order. This teaching is rooted in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as well as in traditional philosophical and theological teachings of the Church.

The following link http://cctwincities.org/CatholicSocialTeachingMajorDocuments

includes not only the encyclical and conciliar documents that are typically considered to be the core texts, but also some key teaching documents issued by national bishops conferences and Vatican congregations, documents which contribute to the ongoing development of Catholic social teaching.

Supplementary Questions to Examine Conscience in Light of Catholic Social Teaching
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
  • Do I respect the life and dignity of every human person from conception through natural death?
  • Do I recognize the face of Christ reflected in all others around me whatever their race, class, age, or abilities?
  • Do I work to protect the dignity of others when it is being threatened?
  • Am I committed to both protecting human life and to ensuring that every human being is able to live in dignity?
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
  • Do I try to make positive contributions in my family and in my community?
  • Are my beliefs, attitudes, and choices such that they strengthen or undermine the institution of the family?
  • Am I aware of problems facing my local community and involved in efforts to find solutions? Do I stay informed and make my voice heard when needed?
  • Do I support the efforts of poor persons to work for change in their neighborhoods and communities? Do my attitudes and interactions empower or disempower others?
Rights and Responsibilities
  • Do I recognize and respect the economic, social, political, and cultural rights of others?
  • Do I live in material comfort and excess while remaining insensitive to the needs of others whose rights are unfulfilled?
  • Do I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that the rights of persons in need are realized?
  • Do I urge those in power to implement programs and policies that give priority to the human dignity and rights of all, especially the vulnerable?
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Do I give special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in my community and in the world?
  • Am I disproportionately concerned for my own good at the expense of others?
  • Do I engage in service and advocacy work that protects the dignity of poor and vulnerable persons?
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
  • As a worker, do I give my employer a fair day’s work for my wages? As an owner, do I treat workers fairly?
  • Do I treat all workers with whom I interact with respect, no matter their position or class?
  • Do I support the rights of all workers to adequate wages, health insurance, vacation and sick leave? Do I affirm their right to form or join unions or worker associations
  • Do my purchasing choices take into account the hands involved in the production of what I buy? When possible, do I buy products produced by workers whose rights and dignity were respected?
Solidarity
  • Does the way I spend my time reflect a genuine concern for others?
  • Is solidarity incorporated into my prayer and spirituality? Do I lift up vulnerable people throughout the world in my prayer, or is it reserved for only my personal concerns?
  • Am I attentive only to my local neighbors or also those across the globe?
  • Do I see all members of the human family as my brothers and sisters?
Care for God’s Creation
  • Do I live out my responsibility to care for God’s creation?
  • Do I see my care for creation as connected to my concern for poor persons, who are most at risk from environmental problems?
  • Do I litter? Live wastefully? Use energy too freely? Are there ways I could reduce consumption in my life?
  • Are there ways I could change my daily practices and those of my family, school

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