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Catholic Social Teaching

Office of Pastoral Outreach

Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith, recognizing Christ in the poorest among us. It is based on, and inseparable from, our understanding of human life and human dignity. As we are made in the image and likeness of God, Catholics believe that human life and human dignity are inherently sacred. Catholic Social Teaching is the way we live out God’s greatest commandment, which is:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This central and essential element of our Catholic faith calls 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. We have an enduring duty of commitment to the poor and to the most vulnerable.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is a summarized version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992. Following the International Catechetical Congress in 2002, the Holy Father instructed that a synthesis of the Catechism be prepared.

The Social Agenda – The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church: A collection of Roman Catholic Magisterial Texts (A publication of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)

The Creed: A Presentation on The Creed and Its Implications for Catholic Social Teaching.

Natural Law – Human Person – An introduction to the light of understanding placed in us at creation by God so that we know what we must do and what we must avoid.

What is CRS Ethical Fair Trade? Catholic Relief Services Ethical Trade is a celebration of the dignity of work. It’s a community of fair trade believers dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable by choosing to consume differently. Together, we’re creating a better world through education, advocacy and conscientious purchasing. Your ethical trade journey starts here!

The Ten Foundations of Catholic Social Teaching

All excerpts are taken from the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

1. 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

2. Respect for Human Dignity

Being in the image of God the human individual 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 communion 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

3. Community and 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 a 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 qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.

CCC 1882

4. 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

5. Preference for the Poor and Vulnerable

The kingdom belongs to the poor and 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 toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.

CCC 544

6. Solidarity

Socio-economic problems can be resolved only with the help of all the forms of solidarity: solidarity of the poor among themselves, between rich and poor, of workers among themselves, between employers and employees in a business, solidarity among nations and peoples. International solidarity is a requirement of the moral order; world peace depends in part upon this.

CCC 1941

7. 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 respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator 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

8. Subsidiarity

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 co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.

CCC 1883

9. 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 its 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

10. Common Good

By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as 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. It consists of three essential elements.

CCC 1916