Overview Catholic Social Teaching is a collection of teachings that are designed to reflect the Church’s social mission in response to the challenges of the day. The teachings are rooted in biblical values and reflections on Christian tradition. This tradition calls all members of the Church, rich and poor alike, to work to eliminate the occurrence and effect of poverty, to speak out against injustice, and to shape a more caring society and a more peaceful world.
The work for social justice is first and foremost a work of faith, a profoundly religious task. It is Jesus who calls us to this mission, not any political or ideological agenda.
We as Catholics are called to bring the healing hand of Christ to those in need, the courageous voice of the prophet to those in power, and the gospel message of love, justice and peace to a suffering world.
Major Themes: The following seven themes highlight some of the key principles that are addressed in Catholic Social Teaching documents. These seven themes are summarized in the document Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, reflections of the U.S. Bishops published in 1998. (The quotations given below are from this document.)
1. The Dignity of the Human Person God made each of us; therefore, each of us is special. No matter who we are, what we look like, where we are from, or what we believe, all people have dignity and are special. We believe that every person is precious and that people are more important than things.
2. Call to Family, Community, and Participation Jesus knew that people need other people. We all need our family, friends, and neighbors. He tells us it is right that in our lives we should have these important people who help us. Jesus says we must work to help them, too.
3. Rights and Responsibilities All God’s people are entitled to food, work, clothes, a home, a school, and a doctor when they are sick. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to these things. Many people don’t have the things that they need. Jesus wants the people who already have what they need to help these other people. We call this a responsibility.
4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable Jesus teaches that people who have less than others must be helped and given what they need. It is just and right to share your wealth with the poor, and Jesus instructs us to put the needs of the poor and the vulnerable first.
5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers Work is more than just a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. Workers have rights to decent work, just wages, and safe working conditions. By our work, we help ourselves and others and show love to God.
6. Solidarity Because we are all God’s children, we are all brothers and sisters. We are connected, even though we may be different from one another, live in different places, or speak different languages. This connection through God makes all people our neighbors. We must love our neighbor as Jesus taught. By loving all of our neighbors in the world, we can help bring peace and justice to the world.
7. Care for God’s Creation We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Caring 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 action.
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