Catholic Social Teaching is based on the belief that God has a plan for creation, a plan to build his kingdom of peace, love and justice. It holds that God has a special place in this story for each of us, whoever we are. Our part in this plan isn’t just limited to things ‘spiritual’, or things we might do on Sundays, but that it involves every aspect of our lives, from the things we pray about, to how we live as a responsible global citizens. Our part in this story is a kind-of vocation for the common good, a call to treat everyone as your brothers and sisters and is something that we all share. Catholic Social Teaching is the tradition of papal reflection about how we live this vocation for the common good in our world.
Catholic Social Teaching touches upon many different aspects of life, from the family to international development, how we think of those who are homeless to how we care for the environment, and from how we shop and consume to the rights of workers and the dignity of work. All the different areas that Catholic Social Teaching touches upon have developed from practical reflection on the realities of modern life in the light of the principles and themes of Catholic Social Teaching.
This website is structured around these themes and offers explanations, resources, reflections and stories for each one. We hope these will help you to better understand and reflect upon Catholic social teaching as well as challenge you and support you in better responding to our shared vocation for the common good.
Find out more about the themes below, or alternatively, click here to read a more in depth introduction to Catholic Social Teaching.
Themes of Catholic Social Teaching
We must recognise we are all brothers and sisters which requires us to respect, value and uphold a common dignity for ourselves and each other. As human beings we are created in the image and likeness of God so therefore we have an inherent worth and distinction.
As humans we were are not created to live alone, community is clearly linked in the history of humankind. One way for Catholics to practise solidarity is to participate in pursuing the common good for a community. Every member of society has a duty to develop this common good and every member has a right to enjoy the benefits brought about by it.
Respect for human life means respecting all of God’s creation. We must re-engage with our environment and take responsibility for it; live sustainably, live so that there are enough resources for everyone. Our environment influences almost all of our lives, and Catholic Social Teaching recognises that undervaluing makes us all poorer.
This theme looks at the importance of work, the dignity of work and the value of balance in our home and work lives. Catholic Social Teaching holds that work is not to be drudgery, but creative, positive and an intrinsic good. It is not however, all for yourself, ways to accumulate power and influence, but is rather to play our part in being co-creators in God’s loving act of creation.
The Church teaches us that peace is central to the gospel and represents a challenge to many contemporary attitudes and assumptions. Pope Benedict XVI has challenged Christians to be true peacemakers bringing forgiveness and non-violent solutions to situations of hurt and violence.
Solidarity is an important concept for Christians and is one of the most mystical and deeply human founding concepts of the social teaching of the Church. It is based on the belief that together we can make a difference and together we are much stronger. When we value fellow human beings we respect each other as unique individuals and we can stand up for what is right for one another.