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. … Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
The first social teaching proclaims the respect for human life, one of the most fundamental needs in a world distorted by greed and selfishness. The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation for all the social teachings.
Catholic social teaching applies Gospel values such as love, peace, justice, compassion, reconciliation, service and community to modern social problems. It continually develops through observation, analysis, and action.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has identified these seven key themes of Catholic Social Teaching set out here. Other sources identify more or fewer key themes based on their reading of the key documents of the social magisterium.
At the core of Catholic Social Teaching are a number of key concepts and principles. Chief among these are justice, human dignity, the common good, the principles of participation, solidarity, and subsidiarity, the universal destination of the world’s goods, and the option for the poor.
The social teachings are made up of three distinct elements:
- Principles of reflection;
- Criteria for judgement; and.
- Guidelines for action.
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) offers a way of thinking, being and seeing the world. It provides a vision for a just society in which the dignity of all people is recognised, and those who are vulnerable are cared for.
The principles of Catholic Social Teaching: Human Dignity. Solidarity. Subsidiarity.